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Did you know that Amazon has a list of the top-selling and free sci-fi and fantasy books? The list changes constantly — authors set their books to free temporarily to promote their work, and, of course, books move up and down in the rankings. Read on to find your fun free read for this weekend! And grab the books quickly because they don’t always stay free for long.
This week’s list is completely different from those of the previous weeks. So if you’re a fan of free books, there are going to be new things to read all the time. If you want to get this list in your inbox every Friday afternoon, subscribe to the MetaStellar weekly newsletter.
There are a lot of books to go through, so this week I’m being helped out by a couple of other members of our MetaStellar community. If you’d like to join me in doing these reviews — and taping our regular Friday videos — email me at [email protected].
10. Beyond The Veil by Nicole R. Taylor
This is a box set of five full-length urban fantasy novels, each of which is the first in its own series. It includes Crescent Calling, the first book in the four-book The Crescent Witch Chronicles; Arcane Rising, the first book in the four-book The Darkland Druids series; Dark Descent, the first book in the five-book The Arondight Codex series; The Witch Hunter, the first book in the six-book The Witch Hunter Saga; and Wolf Called, the first book in the five-book Fortitude Wolves series.
From Maria Korolov:
This is a great opportunity to check out the first books of five different urban fantasy series to see if you like them. The only downside, if you’re in Kindle Unlimited, is that the other books are not in Kindle Unlimited and you’ll have to pay for them, usually $3.99 per book.
From a marketing perspective, this is a great deal.
The first book, Crescent Calling, starts with Skye Williams, the last Crescent Witch. Her job is to protect the last whisper of magic from the darkness.
Her boyfriend, instead of proposing to her, has dumped her. She got laid off from work. And left Melbourne to drive home to the small town of Ocean Grove, to stay in the house her recently-departed father had left her in his will. Then she finds out that her mom — the woman who abandoned Skye and her dad when Skye was two — has also died, of a heart attack. And her mom has also left her a house — plus a good bit of money. She could use the money, but to claim it, she has to go live in the house, which is in Ireland.
So she goes to Ireland.
This is a very slow beginning. Combined with the fact that I’ve have to pay money to read the rest of the books, I’m going to pass.
9. Spotted Her First by Emma Dean
This is a standalone book of paranormal romance. Usually It’s $3.99, but today it’s free. This book is in Kindle Unlimited. If you like this book the author, Emma Dean, has several other books available and they are all in Kindle Unlimited. Emma Dean has been on this list before, we reviewed her book Alpha Wolf back in Sep. 2021.
From Maria Korolov:
I am not a fan of paranormal romance. And I’m also not a fan of the particular subgenre “reverse harem romance” — which this book is. A reverse harem is where the female lead doesn’t have to choose between multiple men — she can have them all.
I can kind of see the point of it. If you’re going for a fantasy, might as well go all the way. But all I can think of when reading these is the logistics and drama of having to juggle multiple boyfriends. It just feels like so much work.
Maybe my ideal book is one where the heroine has a nice nap for 300 pages.
Until then, let’s see what this book is about… So, Piper works the night shift at the library. She likes it then because it’s so much quieter. She works at the Sacramento State University, which has a collection of books about Greek history. Her doctorate thesis was about whether Cleopatra actually killed herself or not. And the reason Piper is so obsessed with ancient history? She took a DNA test when she was a teenager, and found out that she was descended from Cleopatra.
Then some men come into the library late on a Friday night. The voice of one sounds like velvet and brandy and is deep, gruff, and somehow sensual. The men bicker as they discuss the fact that they’re looking for someone, and that a witch told them they could find her here. She worries that they’re dangerous, so she hides in the stack and texts her dad, a cop, to come help her.
Then one of the men finds her. He looks like a model, with jade-green eyes and tanned skin, thick and gorgeous blond-brown hair, and a presence that captivated her. Until she threw a heavy book at him and ran. Then a second man catches her. He’s got a seductive voice, and the most beautiful eyes she’d ever seen. She kicks him in the nuts.
The she runs into the third guy. Too beautiful to be real, with more of a prowl than a walk, making her weak in the knees and breathless. She screams for help and throws every book she can grab at him.
Finally, she finds a security guard and hides behind him. But there’s something weird about the guy. So when the guard grabs her she bites him hard and runs out of the library. Her dad is already there. But the security guard teleports over to her, grabs her again, and teleports her away.
Wow. That was a tense beginning!
So cheesy — so, so cheesy — but full of action, and a great introduction to all the characters. Will I keep reading? On the one hand, it promises to be a super fun, sexy read. But also — cheesy. I might come back and read it in secret.
8. Earl Hathbury’s Vessel by S. Rodman
This is the second of three books in the Duty & Magic gay paranormal romance series. The first book in the series is $3.99, and the third book in the series is currently available for pre-order and will be coming out later this month. The entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
The beginning is a little confusing. Charles is trying to sneak out of a house with his small bag of possessions. He’s leaving his home of the past four years. Leaving his master who beats him. There’s supposed to be a car waiting for him — if it isn’t a trap. The car will take him somewhere safe. Hopefully. To a new mage. He worries that the new mage will be as bad as his old one.
Turns out that his old master, the earl, also forced him to have sex with him, submit his body to him — and submit his magic.
But the new master is young, and handsome, and doesn’t make Charlie kneel in front of him. Instead, he treats him like a friend.
The story is creeping me out. Charlie has magical powers, which he probably inherited. His parents were servants on his old master’s estate, so there was a good chance that the master was his biological father. He was raised to be a magical sex slave, and sold off when he turned 18. So creepy. I don’t think I’ll be sticking with this because the premise of sexual slavery is a little disturbing. But I understand it’s a common trope, and many people like it. And who am I to talk, anyway? I like my books with as high a body count as possible.
In any case, this book is very readable, and Charlie is a very sympathetic character.
7. Hangry as Hell by Ward Parker
This is the ninth of nine books in the Freaky Florida cozy paranormal mystery series. The other books are $2.99 to $3.99. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited. This isn’t the first time Ward Parker has been on this list, we reviewed the first three books of his Freaky Florida series earlier this year in January, and, just this past September, his book A Magic Touch, the first of eight books in the Memory Guild cozy paranormal mystery series.
From Maria Korolov:
The books were funny, the characters were fun, and the plots compelling enough to keep me going from book to book. I gobbled them all right up, since they were all in Kindle Unlimited. Unfortunately, the Freaky Florida series is not in Kindle Unlimited, so I haven’t read most of the books in it.
So I’m a little hesitant to start reading this one — I don’t want to give myself any spoilers in case I do go back and buy the other books.
So why don’t I tell you about the series as a whole…
Missy Mindle is a home-health nurse who offers medical screenings and basic care for seniors. Who just happen to include vampires, werewolves, and other creatures. This is Florida, after all. All sorts of people end up here.
We start out with her visiting Leonard Schwartz, a vampire who lives on the ocean front in Squid Tower, a condominium community, and is overweight despite being on an all-liquid diet.
Her job involves a lot of challenges. Vampires don’t like to be lectured on their eating habits, and getting blood and urine samples can be tricky.
Oh, and she also has some magical powers, which comes in handy when she has to keep the vampires from biting her.
She regularly comes by to visit her friend from the Memory Guild series, too, though, for the most part, the series are located in separate towns and have different sets of characters.
The books are the perfect amount of cozy, not too romantic, not grim at all, but with a nice pacing that pulls you along and before you know it you’ve binged half-a-dozen books in one weekend.
6. Half-Blood Dragon by K.N. Lee
This is the first of seven books in the Dragon Born teen and young adult sword and sorcery fantasy series. The other books in the series are $2.99 each and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Mary Stoll:
Rowen is a young woman who is half-dragon and half-human. She lives in Draconia, a land ruled by dragons. She wonders if she would fit in better in the land of humans.
As a lady in waiting, Rowan serves the princess. But she’s really at the palace to suit the wishes of her sinister stepfather, the Duke of Harrow. The Duke wants her to win over the prince, become his princess, and take the crown.
Rowan is trying to escape a terrifying prophetic dream with the help of her best-friend Brea.
Brea is high-born and fully dragon, able to disappear at will. Unlike most dragons, Brea doesn’t look down on Rowan for being a “half-blood”.
Elian Westin is introduced in the third chapter, as he devours the soul of a dead man. Elian and Rowen’s relationship will be revealed later in the book.
The first few chapters of this well-written book move quickly. The characters are engaging and well-developed. This is a short book at 172 pages with an interesting story plot, so I will finish this quick read before the weekend is over.
This would be a good read for Game of Thrones fans.
5. Outback Spirit by Nicole R Taylor
This is the first of five books in the Australian Supernatural: Origins urban fantasy series. The other books in the series are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. Nicole R. Taylor has been on this list before. We reviewed her books Arcane Rising in June, 2021, Beyond the Veil in December 2021, Wolf Called last June, and The Witch Hunter last August.
From Maria Korolov:
Eloise is traveling through outback Australia in a motorhome when it breaks down a few miles outside of a small town in the middle of nowhere. She’s able to get the engine started again, and the motorhome barely makes it to the town, where a mechanic tells her that she’s got a blown head gasket. It’s going to take time to order the part, and, with labor, it will take a couple of thousand dollars to fix it. She parks her motorhome at the mechanic’s and settles in to wait for the part.
Then we switch to the point of view of Kyne, who’s working on a seam of opal in a mine outside of Solace. He needs to go back to town for equipment. He goes to see the same mechanic where Eloise is now parked. The mechanic suggests that Eloise could use Kyne’s help, but Kyne just wants to borrow a jackhammer and be back on his way again.
In the next chapter, Eloise walks across the road to the pub, and when she steps on the white line in the middle of the highway, a tremor goes through her body. We find out that she’s been traveling all over the country in order to find out what she is — and that if she accidentally touches anyone, it makes them hate her.
She goes into the bar, and asks about work. Maybe bar tending, helping in the kitchen. They don’t need anyone. So she asks about helping the region’s opal miners and gets shut down. Then a woman, Vera, comes up to her. She runs a local shop, which also doubles as the post office, bank, and pharmacy. And she reads palms. She offers to read Eloise’s, but Eloise pulls her hands back, and runs out.
Then we switch to Vera’s point of view. She wanted to touch Eloise so that she could get a vision about her. She’s curious about what pulled her to the town.
It seems that there a lot of magical folks in the area. And I also get the sense that most of them are nice. Gruff sometimes, but nice. Eloise should open up to them more.
It’s an easy read, but the local flavor of the Australian outback is very appealing. I might stick with it.
4. Twist and Turns by W. J. May
This is the first of four books in the Fae Wilds coming of age fantasy series. The other books in the series are $3.99 each, and the fourth book is currently available for pre-order and will be coming out Nov. 7, 2022. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited. This isn’t the first time W.J. May has been on this list. We reviewed The Kerrigan Kids in April 2021, and Guardian back in July.
From Maria Korolov:
I’m not a fan of the coming-of-age genre because I hate young people and am sick and tired of their drama. Also, them driving four-wheelers across my lawn. Get off my lawn, you pesky young people!
That being said, you got to keep your mind open.
The main character wakes up by a stream, with no memory of how she got there — or who she is. She’s in a forest, wearing a silk gown, and the back of her head hurts, like she’d been hit — or fell. She thinks that maybe she got drunk the night before. She finds a velvet purse in the grass, embroidered with the word “Linetta.” Maybe that’s her name. There are coins in it, and red gemstones.
She groans. Who in the Fae Realm is she?
Saying that out loud makes her remember some stuff. She’s one of the Fae, living in one of the many realms connected via portals.
She walks out of the forest and finds a road, which takes her to a farm. She has a drink of water, then keeps walking. By the time she reaches a village, it’s later afternoon and she’s starving.
She goes into a pub to buy some food, and there are some Fae soldiers there, which fills her with apprehension for some unknown reason. She’s forced to show her money before she can order anything, and one of the locals tricks her into buying a round for everyone. She drinks as well, and, on an empty stomach, she’s almost instantly drunk. Or maybe they put something in her drink.
I don’t like the way that she lets people push her around. I don’t like the way some of the locals are hitting on her — and the fact that she keeps drinking even though it’s obviously a really bad idea.
I don’t think I’ll be sticking with this book but I do have to say that it’s very readable and the setting is vivid.
3. Blood on the Floor by Aleese Hughes
This is the first of two books in The Inspector Mage romantic fantasy series. The sequel is $3.99 and will be coming out Dec. 24, 2022. The first book is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Carla Nordlund:
Russell Gaines is a newly-minted inspector in the Pirbis North section of Osera, tracking the brutal and cunning serial killer known only as the New Age God. The killer’s tactics are random, except for the fact that many of his messages seem to speak specifically to Russell. After a long night in the station, Russell heads home via a steam-punky, crystal-powered carriage, after which the mysterious driver passes him a message from the New Age God, a beautiful barrette that belongs to Russell’s little sister, Amelia.
The next chapter jumps five years onward, and introduces us to a new character, Julie Melton. Like Russell, Julie is also one of Osera’s elite ruling class. Unlike Russell and the rest of her talented family, Julie lacks a mage gift, the individualized magical gift every Oseran citizen possesses with varying degrees of ability. As Julie and the rest of the household prepare for her elaborate engagement party, we find more about Osera’s history, how the mage gifts work, and Julie’s feelings of otherness within her family, who are talented mages and inventors.
I’m really quite enjoying this mashup of steampunk fantasy within a Roaring 20s-esque era rather than late nineteenth century. I’m curious how Russell and Julie’s trajectories will collide, and have to say the first chapter starts off with a bang by immediately introducing us to the brutality and cunning of the New Age God.
That said, thrillers and serial killers are really not my thing, so I probably won’t continue with this one, for the sake of being able to fall asleep tonight. But if you like a good thriller with some swingy flapper dresses and crystal-powered, possibly flying, carriages thrown in, I think this looks like a fast-paced, exciting read.
2. The Mages of Starsea by Kyle West
This is the first of eight books in The Starsea Cycle space opera science fiction series. The other books in the series are $4.99 each, and the eight book is currently available for pre-order and will be coming out Dec. 16, 2022. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Alex Korolov:
This book is a sci-fi fantasy space opera, so I think it could appeal to all sorts of readers. It has space travel, futuristic technology, and magic all rolled into one story.
Lucian is a young man of only 20 who’s just tested positive for metaphysical emergence. In other words, he’s a mage, and that’s not a good thing.
Fifty years ago, the Starsea mages left billions dead in a mad quest for domination, and anyone who is found out to be a mage nowadays has to either go to a special academy on another world or be forced to live on a mage prison world. Lucian doesn’t know what to do, but he’s got some big decisions to make.
I read the first five chapters, and I’m hooked. I like the combination of fantasy and sci-fi elements, and I definitely plan to keep reading to find out what kind of adventure Lucian is about to embark on.
1. Out of the Shadows by Vincent Valentean
This is a standalone book of EMP survival and it is in Kindle Unlimited. If you like this book, Vincent Valentean has several other books available, many of which are free, and they are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Alex Korolov:
EMP books all share a common thread. An electromagnetic pulse suddenly wipes out all electrical devices, including lights, cell phones, and vehicles. The rest of the book is about people dealing with the consequences of that event. If this sounds appealing to you, then this book is one you might like.
Carolyn and her son Eric are at a football game in NYC when the EMP hits. Meanwhile, Carolyn’s husband Sam — who used to be in the NYPD — is at the family’s upstate NY farm when the EMP hits.
I read the first two chapters, and I wouldn’t keep going. If you’re a fan of EMP fiction, this book will be entertaining enough, but I didn’t feel like it stood out from any other EMP book I’ve reviewed in the past.
Edited by Melody Friedenthal
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
Or watch Maria talk about all ten books in the video below, despite being half-dead from a cold: