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Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for Oct. 15
By Maria Korolov and Amira Loutfi
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. But are any of the books actually worth reading? Well, I read the first few chapters of each to find out, so you don’t have to.
This week’s list is completely different from those of the previous weeks. So if you’re a fan of free books, it looks like there are going to be new things to read all the time.
I’ve noticed that if you try to open the list on a mobile device, it will take you to the listings that cost money, instead. I’ve found that by switching to the “desktop site” in the mobile browser, the free list comes up.
Oh, and if there’s a book that catches your eye, grab it quickly, since the books are often free for only a short time. And, Amazon allows you to lend your e-books, for free, to your friends. Even free e-books. Here are the instructions.
Most of these books are the first book in the series, and in each case, I’ve checked to see whether the rest of the books are free as well, or whether they’re in Kindle Unlimited. Learn more about Kindle Unlimited here.
The list is accurate as of the time of writing but may have changed since the story was posted.
1. The Navigator by P. M. Johnson
This is the first of four books in The Apollo Stone Series of post-apocalyptic sci-fi. The other books are $2.99 t0 $4.99 and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
An authoritarian state that attempts to control its citizens’ thoughts and a constant state of war to keep them in line — this reminds me quite a bit of George Orwell’s 1984.
Logan is a student in his country’s military academy, taking the final exams for his physics classes, when he’s bequeathed a mysterious message — and object — by his grandfather. The object is evidence that mankind reached the moon, before the asteroids hit and wiped out much of civilization. That’s information that the government prefers to keep secret in order to keep citizens subjugated to their lot.
The main character is young and a little naive, but comes to realize that the world isn’t what he thought it was and gets caught up in world-changing events.
The book is very readable, though some of the exposition felt a little heavy-handed to me. Anytime a character starts a long speech by saying, “As you know…” and then proceeds to summarize recent events that everyone listening is very well aware of it, it sets my teeth on edge. I would never begin a conversation with someone by saying, “As you know, we now have the Internet.”
I’m also not a fan of the protagonist. But, in general, I’m not fond of stories with a young-adult feel to them, especially ones that begin in school. So that’s just me.
Mainly, it’s a little too grim for me. At this point in time, with everything going on in the world, anything dystopian feels too much like actual current reality. And I’d like to get away from reality for a little while, thank you very much.
2. Cinderella Assassin by Allie Burton
This is the first of four books in the A Glass Slipper Adventure series, a retelling of the classic fairy tale. The other books are $3.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The third and last book is not out yet, but is scheduled to be released in March of 2022.
From Maria Korolov:
Elle is an orphan, her mother a fairy, her stepmother and stepsisters suitably evil, and she wants to go to the ball. But mostly, she wants to keep passing for human. To get money for a dress she sells a magical item she inherited from her mother. Then her best friend, a smoke sprite, is arrested and Elle reaches out to her fairy godmother for help. And the fairy godmother wants her to assassinate the prince.
The story is mix of young adult romance, fairy tale fantasy, and the modern world.
It’s a fun premise, and fun characters.
I might come back to this, though the young adult aspect of it isn’t strictly speaking my cup of tea. Still, it’s a fun, diverting read. And who doesn’t want some of that these days?
3. Viking Ancestors by Sky Purington
This is a boxed set of all six books in the Viking Ancestors: Rise of the Dragon series of of time-traveling shape-shifter romance with a heavy dose of Norse mytholody. Normally, the books are $0.99 to $3.99 each. They are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
As I started reading the first book, Viking King’s Vendetta, the style felt very familiar, as if I’d read these books before. Or, at least, something very similar. Plus, it felt like I was picking up in the middle of the story.
And that’s because I was.
Back in March, I reviewed The MacLomain Series: Viking Ancestors’ Kin by Sky Purington. Back then, that box set was free. It now costs money, but is in Kindle Unlimited. If you’re in the mood for some time-travel romance with dragons, I recommending starting with those books first. They do cost money, but they’re all in Kindle Unlimited.
The books remind me a bit of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, but I couldn’t get into them back in March, and I couldn’t get into this new boxed set today.
Maybe I’m not in a romantic mood, but the main character and her problems didn’t really strike a chord with me. Also, I got a feeling that I was supposed to care about her because of what happened in previous books, which, as I mentioned, I didn’t read.
But if this is your cup of tea, or even if you think it might be, grab this set now while it’s free.
4. Fire and Sword by Dylan Doose
This is the first of seven books in the Sword and Sorcery epic fantasy series. The other books are $2.99 to $5.99 each. They are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
This is my favorite book of today’s set. It’s powerfully written, though a little on the grim side. It reminds me a bit of The Witcher Saga by Andrzej Sapkowski.
Two warriors team up with a young mage to defend a corrupt kingdom under attack by evil magic forces. It’s a dark story, filled with moral dilemmas and violence and fast-paced action.
I had a really hard time putting it down to go on to the next book on the list, and will probably come back to it.
The other books in the series cost money, but judging by the quality of the writing, they’re well worth spending on.
5. Beauty and the Professor by Skye Warren
This is the first of two books in A Modern Fairy Tale Duet, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The other book is $4.99 and is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
From the cover, it looks like it could be a steampunk story, or a Fifty Shades of Gray kind of thing.
Erin, the protagonist, is a political science student who has a housecleaning job and a crush on her reclusive employer, a former professor who suffered severe burns during a tour in the Middle East.
And… it starts right in with a sex scene, of sorts. And then gets more and more sexy.
So I guess more of Fifty Shades.
Other than the fact that the story has some — very distant — resemblance to the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, I don’t see anything particularly fantasy or sci-fi related about this book. But, on the plus side, it is full of sex. Lots and lots of filthy sex. And it’s told in alternating points of view — both hers and his — so there’s plenty here for everybody.
6. Glamour Eyes by Jessica Lynch
This is one of two books in the Wanted by the Fae series. The other is $2.99 and will be released next month.
From Maria Korolov:
This book is set in the same universe as Jessica Lynch’s other Fae books, particularly the series Touched by the Fae, which is in Kindle Unlimited.
It’s a prequel about how Callie and Ash first met, and why Ash gave up his position as a guard in the Fae Queen’s Court to be with a human woman, Callie.
The story is a set at a time when Blockbuster was still around.
Callie sees faerie creatures. As a child, she tried to tell people about this, but she eventually got tired of her parents taking her to shrink appointments and began pretending that she couldn’t and everything was normal.
She’s now 22, a photographer, and spots a glimpse of a handsome fae.
Meanwhile, Ash, a guard for the Faerie Queen, has been sentenced to stand guard at the edge of the realm, where the veil to the human realm is weakest. And he sees Callie watching him and develops an obsessive crush on her.
I’m not particularly interested in either of these two characters, and the novel starts out very slowly. Plus, I prefer my urban fantasy with less romance and more killing.
7. Phantom Echo by Eldon Farrell
This is the first of six books in Singularverse sci-fi thriller series. The other books are $0.99 to $4.99 each. They are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
The book is set in the near future, where Nathan Miller is a police detective. People now have embedded ID chips, which makes identifying murder victims a little easier.
I like the procedural aspect here. It reminds me of CSI, but set slightly in the future. Like JD Robb’s In Death books, but with less romance.
It’s exactly my kind of book and I’m looking forward to getting back to it once I’m done with today’s work.
8. The Goblin King by Jovee Winters
This is the latest release of the ten-book The Dark Kings fantasy romance series. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each. They are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
This is a fantasy romance where the POV character is a boy who falls in love with another boy. It’s certainly different from other Free Friday books. The writing style makes me feel like I’m in a daydream. It’s well-written and it switches back and forth between the two boys.
Jerrick is the Goblin King — a great monster — but his “mother” tamed him and made him nice. We are to feel sorry for Jerrick — this little green boy — because at five years old he is an outcast among his peers. None of his peers ever touch him because they are disgusted by his green skin and other weird qualities. His “mother” is a witch. She is a good witch and goes to Earth every once in a while to answer those who call on her. Jerrick often goes with her on her Earth missions.
It is just one such instance where Jerrick meets a beautiful boy at a park who is kind to him and teaches him how to play basketball. He is only five years old, but his mother thinks he’s in love. She does some good magic for the boy Jerrick loves and then she removes Jerrick’s memories.
Eventually, Jerrick will go to Earth looking for love — according to the blurb in the beginning.
From his mother’s perspective, we learn that Jerrick is “only one spark away” from reverting back to the Goblin King monster. She thinks that pining after this boy from Earth might be the last straw that turns him back into the monstrous beast. She feels that she has to nurture his goodness more to prevent that from happening. And she also can see into the future — she knows that the two boys will cross paths again and that they will get married and have kids.
The beautiful boy at the park is the leader of a Korean boy band. He is also lonely.
In a bookstore, I would certainly pick up this book based on the cover and the title. But will I be back for more? I don’t know … I guess I am pretty curious about how these two will meet again. Although it kind of seems like there’s only one plot thread. I think that if there was some kind of complication with the magic, I would probably be more likely to return.
9. A Zombie’s History of the United States by Josh Miller
This is a standalone book of humorous alternative history.
From Amira Loutfi:
This sounds a lot like a history book and it has me believing that zombies must have been a significant shaper of history. We start with a few scholarly debates on zombies and their origin.
For example, in 2005 an ancient skull found in France was covered in human teeth marks. The skull is about 60,000 years old. Scholarly debates about the origins of zombies usually vacillate between North America and Asia, but this discovery puts that into question.
How can scientists tell the difference between cannibalism and zombie attacks? It depends on what other evidence archeologists have uncovered. For example, in northeast Russia, scientists discovered a large group of human remains in a pit that appeared to have been cranially assaulted and set ablaze. This has been extrapolated by markings on the bones and ash in the sediments. It is very likely that humans and zombies had been fighting in this area.
This history weaves zombies and their influence into the discovery of the new world, relationships with the Native Americans, and the death of Ponce De Leon, who may have been bitten by a zombie — not poisoned. His crew members said that he had “furies” and was trying to bite others.
This is fantastic. I am totally swept away. It’s great for anyone who loves to read history and wants to believe in zombies. I am no history buff, so I say you ought to check it out for yourself. Will I be back, though? Hmm. Maybe. I like it quite a bit.
10. Blood Crossed by John P. Logsdon and Christopher P. Young
This is the first of eight books in the Netherworld Paranormal Police Department urban fantasy series. The other books are $0.99 to $2.99 each. They are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
I like paranormal police department stories. But not excited about this one for some reason.
Piper is an experienced retriever with the paranormal police department. She is partnered with a rookie and immediately gets a new mission — so they are getting to know each other as they work. They are looking for a vampire. Piper uses a gun and her partner reveals that he doesn’t use guns. He’s a reaper meaning that his magic is related to death.
So I’m super turned off by this book already. I’m only a few pages in. The protagonist is condescending to her new partner and he acts weird. He calls guns an “abomination.” Is that relevant to the plot? I doubt it. And then his eyes start glowing very brightly. She calls his glowing eyes stupid, saying that no one else told him that before because they are restrained by “political correctness.” I doubt it’s political correctness that has prevented anyone from criticizing his eyes. Piper is probably just racist against Reapers. While I don’t like hypersensitivity, I also don’t like it when people take a stand against political correctness either.
Anyway. I seriously doubt this story will be able to win me over, but I’m going to read on and let you know.
Reaper dives onto a magical bomb and it hurts, but doesn’t cause any damage. Piper tries to tell him he shouldn’t do that because it’s stupid. Ugh, just stop it, Piper. He saved a bunch of people’s lives by diving onto the bomb and he is fine. Then, he sends a human woman into “stasis” which will help to prolong her life. He’s a reaper with a heart of gold. I like him.
Both of them, Piper and Reaper, have special tattoos that give them superpowers. Piper is immortal.
So to be honest, I feel that this beginning has too much world-building that isn’t relevant to the main plot. While I read this I imagine it might have done well in the 90s as a tv series.
And yet I still feel curious. I might come back…
Do you have other free books for us to check out? Email me at [email protected].