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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. 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. Body Suit by Suzanne Hagelin
This is the first of three books in The Silvarian Trilogy, a hard sci-fi series. The other books are $3.99 and $7.99 and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I like the premise of the book. The tag line — “a riches to rags adventure of a clever woman in a high-tech suit versus a hostile AI” — pulled me right in.
But then the first chapter pushed me right back out again.
The point of view jumps disconcertingly between Sil — Operative Frandelle — and Walter, the salesman who sells her a high-end suit. She’s attractive and seductive, and cajoles him into giving her a significant discount. He falls in love and stalks her into the next chapter, where he pitches an insider trading scheme in order to main contact with her.
She’s sent to work in the mines of Mars — initially, as a waitress. The conversations between Sil and Walter continue, and are just as awkward and cringy as before.
At her waitressing job, she eavesdrops on customers. And in her off-hours, she films ads for the suit manufacturer, showing off various aspects of the shape-changing suit she bought.
And you know what? I’m getting into the story. I’m going to come back and finish it.
2. Nightfall by L.H. Cosway
This is the first of four books in the Blood Magic paranormal romance series. The other books are $2.99 to $3.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
I read the blurb for this one and I’m on board again. Tegan works the night shift and there is a handsome stranger who keeps following her around. He seems to have mind-control powers. I know this because in the blurb it says that he fends off a thief by looking him in the eye and then does the same thing to her telling her to forget they ever met.
She remembers him anyway and finds him at a fancy club. He is Tegan’s connection to the world of the paranormal.
So what I like about this book already is that I feel sorry for the protagonist. And I like the scene where she first meets these bizarre paranormal folks. She’s putting labels on cans of beans in one aisle and hears three people talking about living really long, meeting historical figures, and the next century. They also look weird, and the descriptions are fun. It really pulled me into a paranormal spooky mood. The golden-eyed blond man tells her she smells great. Just like in Twilight.
But I’m enjoying it. Maybe I’m just in a good mood today?
When she arrives home around 6 am, she finds her neighbor. The girl has a crazy father and needed a break from him. So Tegan lets her stay over. Tegan is kind.
I think I can see a plot thread here — Tegan has been isolating for a few months, ever since her boyfriend committed suicide. This is apparent when a friend of hers shows up, bringing her a cute dress to wear and coaxing her out of her apartment to a cool club. A bunch of her other friends are there and they are shocked to see her. She’s been withdrawing for a really long time and cut ties with almost everyone. So I’m guessing one of the plot threads in this story must be about her overcoming her depression.
The other plot thread is about her getting mixed up with a gang of paranormal folks.
While at the club, she sees the golden-eyed blond man. And he flirts with her — saying her dress is nice. She compares it to her work uniform. Her attitude is always snarky. I’m not super into that, but maybe other people are. And when she refers to her work uniform, the blond man looks upset because she wasn’t supposed to remember him. That is enough to freak Tegan out and she runs away.
Run away? Right then? She runs away from the crowded club into an empty alley. How is that helping the situation? In the alley she’s then surrounded by the blond man and his two weird buddies. They are pretty scary and say that she smells amazing again. Eep. They let her go and she decides to get a taxi home. Instead, the blond man drives up in front of her. He tells her to get in and answers a few of her questions.
This one was enjoyable, but I won’t be back.
3. Dragon’s Call by Ann Gimpel
This is the first of three books in the Dragon Heir fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
This book has a Celtic protagonist, witches, and dragons. It’s a grim-dark dystopian fantasy with great world-building. Rowan is the daughter of a goddess, but abandoned the pantheon. She joined a community of witches instead. This made her mother so furious she caused a break between light and dark — and I think that is why this world is so dystopian. The witches are hunted ruthlessly by powerful monsters. Eventually, Rowan gets help from a strange dragon.
There are 277 pages of this. And it might need a trigger warning. There are some non-consensual threats in this world.
In the first scene, Rowan and Tansy are hiding from Odin and his “long-dead” faeries and warriors as she tries to get back to her cave. This undead entourage is called the “Wild Hunt,” and it can smell magic and blood and can fly. They are the worst kind of monster for witches — they have all the equipment to find and feed off of them. I think they came from the break between light and dark — meaning that all this misery is caused by Rowan’s resentful mother! The witches of the past had tried to fight it but then gave up.
This is a great scene. The Ghost army is awesome.
Rowan then gets a telepathic message from Tansy, who is one of the last witches left. Rowan shushes her telepathically. Even telepathy might alert the horde above them of their presence.
The Hunt fills up the sky and Rowan is waiting for it to pass. It’s not passing. Rowan sees that Tansy has outed them. She’s about twelve years old and just got her period. And she summoned a magic shield, too.
Rowan makes a deal with the undead — they can take her as long as they let Tansy go. Then we learn how deals with witches are made. That’s good world-building. Readers only need to know the parts of the world that further the plot. So far I’m into it. It’s a bit grim-dark though — Rowan expects the ghost army to rape Tansy till she dies. Even as she arranges the deal, she is thinking she needs to plan an escape somehow.
I like stories where you have to escape from your enemies.
This is awesome. I will probably be back to see what else happens.
4. New Witch on the Block by Louisa West
This is the first book in the eight-book Midlife in Mosswood series. The other books are $0.99 to $2.99 but are all in Kindle Unlimited. The seventh book isn’t out yet, but is due this December, and the eighth book is due out in March. This is the second time we’ve seen this book on the top ten list — we previously reviewed it in July.
From Maria Korolov:
And now for something completely different.
Rosemary has just escaped from Randy, her abusive husband of 22 years. She packed up what belongings she had, grabbed her ten-year-old daughter Maggie, fled to a strange town, and rented a small furnished cottage on the outskirts of town.
With the money she stole from Randy, she’s only got enough for a month’s rent and the bare essentials. She needs a job, but doesn’t have any experience — not even a high school degree — except for one part-time job working a register years ago, when she first moved in with Randy.
They have to walk to town because she doesn’t have any money for a car.
Then her ex texts her, threatening her — and her phone explodes. Weird! Plus, some pushy church ladies show up and her neighbor is super weird. But she gets a job at the local convenience store, so things are looking up.
The book starts slowly. It has a gentle kind of small-town pace, which fits the setting.
I might come back to it after I’m done with all the murder and mayhem of the other books on this list.
5. Witch for Hire by N. E. Conneely
This is the first of eight books in A Witch’s Path urban fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Michelle’s phone rings at three in the morning. It’s the local sheriff’s office — they need her help to deal with some illegally-bred magic creatures. Yup, Chihuahuas with wings are attacking the mayor’s place. The responding officer, an old vampire, has never seen anything like them before.
I love this beginning. It’s funny, and snappy, and tells me everything I need to know. I love this book right from the first page.
Michelle is a witch. She does pest control for the police. Magical pest control.
I love her no-nonsense attitude and the fact that she bills the department double the usual rate for the middle-of-the-night call. When you’re a freelancer, you really have to stay on top of the invoicing so your cash flow doesn’t suffer.
The world-building is fun, too. This is the modern world, but not like we know it. The president of the country is a dragon. Magical beings are everywhere. Humans are a short-lived, inconsequential species who had only gained their freedom from slavery three hundred years ago. They compensate for their lack of magical abilities by inventing things.
Michelle is living at a bed-and-breakfast. One of the other residents, a unicorn, tells her some gossip about someone experimenting on mundane and magical creatures. Sounds like Michelle’s got some work ahead of her.
I like her very much.
In the next chapter, we switch to someone else’s point of view. Elron, a 1,500-year-old elf who meditates in order to find some peace after the loss of his wife. When I first saw the name at the top of the chapter, I thought I’d been tricked, and this is another cheesy paranormal romance book. But I like Elron. He seems like a solid guy. He bumps into Michelle on his way back to the house, and tries to find out what witch clan she’s from. But she doesn’t have a clan. Oh, and he thinks she’s attractive. Oh, no. It is a romance.
Then we’re back to Michelle. She’s annoyed at the elf for being judgmental about her not having a clan. Her mother got knocked up, wouldn’t name the father, and got kicked out.
That’s why she’s freelancing as a consultant to the police.
She’s annoyed at the elf, but she actually thinks about having a one-night stand with him. He’ll probably be gone the next day, anyway.
That’s the nice thing about picking up guys in hotels, I guess. Or bed-and-breakfasts. They’re probably not going to stick around and be annoying for too long. But I have a suspicion that the elf is going to stick around.
But you know what? I don’t mind too much. No, wait, I do. They have a conversation, and it’s cheesy. I feel like I’m being whip-sawed in two different directions. Kick ass. Cheesy. Kick ass. Cheesy. The cheesiness is pushing me away but the kick-assedness keeps pulling me back in.
Her job reminds me of something out of CSI, but with magic. I love police procedurals, so this is right up my alley. I think I can stand the cheesiness well enough, and the rest of the story is worth sticking with.
Update: As of Sunday afternoon, I’ve read the book, loved it, bought the second book with my own money, loved it, bought the third book, loved it, and then, just now, bought the fourth book and am liking it so far as well. The touchy-feely stuff with the elf takes up maybe 10 percent of the first book, and though this plot expanded in the future books, it also got less cringy and more connected to the rest of the story. This series reminds me a lot of Kim Harrison’s urban fantasy series The Hollows, which I also recommend highly.
6. The Witching Flour by Samantha Silver
This is the first of five books in the Spellford Cove Mystery paranormal cozy mystery series. The other books are $4.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
So I noticed that none of my reading for this week includes a romance! Oh no! I had become so comfortable with the tropes of paranormal romance that it was starting to feel like a break for me. But I already see some similar tropes in these non-romance books. I’m very curious to see if they delight or disappoint me.
I just read the blurb for the Witching Flour and I’m basically on board.
The cover has a cute cat and some cupcakes on it. The title is a cute pun. Hmm … but would I actually want to read the whole book?
This novel starts with a practical joke. Robin Carter arrives at her apartment and finds it trashed. Someone broke into her apartment and she can hear them in her kitchen. And she gets ready to fight them with a hockey stick. It’s a raccoon.
Then she finds a letter. There’s no stamp on it. And she doesn’t know how it got into her apartment.
Oh… so this letter is from her aunt Heather, inviting her to take over her mother’s bakery in Spellford Bay, Washington. It informs her that she was adopted and that her real family is in Washington minding her mother’s bakery until she makes a decision on what to do with it.
Robin always knew she was adopted, but had never been curious about her biological family. And they never even knew she existed until her mother died and bequeathed her bakery to her.
Oh gosh, I think I really like this book. Robin’s Aunt Heather is really sweet, but I know that eventually she’ll turn out to be a witch.
Robin drives all the way over to Washington. The bakery looks like a cottage and is called “Queen of Tarts” and is across from the Pacific Ocean. She can live above it, like in Kiki’s Delivery Service. Hmm, now I’m starting to think of that Ghibli movie as a cozy! And when she visits her family, they tell her she’s a witch.
The letter from the very beginning from her aunt Heather arrived in her apartment by magic. And then Robin runs out the door. And she immediately finds a cute cat. She tries to coax it over and it starts talking.
This cute cat is her familiar.
Yes yes yes. I will be back for more of this. It’s cute and cozy and there’s a lot of vicarious pleasure to be had.
7. Nephilim the Awakening by Elizabeth Blackthorne
This is the first of four books in the Wrath of the Fallen series of “reverse harem” urban fantasy romance. The other books are $2.99 to $3.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
A reverse harem romance! Ugh. I’m uncomfortable already. The trigger warning is for sexual abuse, graphic violence, and graphic male-male-female scenes.
Faith has been independent for a few years, having her own apartment and job. When her mother goes missing, she learns that she was a witch all along — one that worked with the guardians who keep the balance between heaven and hell on earth. The other guardians are very hot and I assume those are the guys Faith has her romances with.
It starts with a lot of rambly narration. The protagonist is thinking about her dream with the cathedral. She also has strong opinions about heaven and hell that are not based on any religious tradition. She wakes up and goes to the cathedral and meets two muscular men there. She has bad thoughts about them immediately.
I don’t like this book already. It’s slow paced and Faith annoys me.
The two guys are holding hands and say they’d be open to a threesome with her.
Ok, I think I’m done with this book now. It’s rambly, but the rambling is kind of nice. And I think you get the idea of how it goes. It’s got graphic sex scenes, religious stuff mixed in with magic and fiction invented by the author.
8. Hex Marks the Spot by Ani Gonzalez
This is the first of two books in the Drop Dead Witchy urban fantasy series. The other book is $0.99 and is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Claire, a witch, has just moved back to her home town in Virginia, Banshee Creek, which is known as the most haunted town in America. Officially, her job is to visit supposedly haunted locations and film funny videos about them. Unofficially, her job is to take care of the ghosts.
She’s got a pet hellhound, Pookie, that looks like a Chihuahua.
Claire is snarky and bad-ass. I like that about her.
In the first chapter, she is looking at an old haunted house — one that has a history of being dangerous to her family. She herself grew up in a nice, safe condo building. Now, she’s going to buy the old Delacourt mansion.
The real estate agent is carefully avoiding talking about the deep gouges on the mahogany floor or what could have caused them. But that’s not what worries Claire. She’s more concerned about the way the floor dips under her feet. Getting rid of a supernatural presence is one thing. Dealing with an extensive basement renovation? That could get pricy.
I love her attitude, and I’m caught up in the story. This is exactly my kind of book, and I’m enjoying it very much.
9. Greenwood Cove by Celia Roman
This is the first of five books in the Sunshine Walkingstick urban fantasy series. The other books are $0.99 to $3.99 and are not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Amira Loutfi:
This book doesn’t seem to have actual graphic scenes in it, but the narration is pretty lewd. It’s about a hillbilly monster hunter in a small town who is grumpy about things that happened in highschool.
Something called a “pooka” took Sunny’s son when he was a baby. Google says pooka is a Celtic demon. That is what got her into the monster-hunting business. That and her parents — she had learned how to track from her father and how to kill from her mother. Oh yeah, and her mother killed her father and is in prison now.
The writing style is also a bit confusing. The POV character uses several terms I’m unsure of … and she sounds like a hillbilly.
I don’t like it when the characters just start lusting after each other senselessly. And that is happening here in this story. The protagonist is sitting across from Riley, a man that she had been close to when they were children. He has a reputation with the women of the town for being really hot.
Riley is trying to hire her to take out a monster that is bothering his ex-girlfriend. Even though Sunny needs the money, she refuses because she is holding a grudge against her. A grudge that started back in highschool.
I feel that the characters are pretty well-developed. Sunny still feels inferior to Riley and his girlfriends, so in a sense, she is stuck in the past. She also thinks about her son a lot — which is understandable. But this grudge! Like ugh. Let it go, Sunny! Just do your job and take the money!
So, if you can get past the lewdness and the confusing language, then you will be able to enjoy this story. It’s pretty believable to me. All the parts fall together nicely.
I won’t be back though.
10. A Force of Nature by Janna Ruth
This is the first of four books in the Spirit Seekers urban fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each and are in Kindle Unlimited. The fourth book is due out in December.
From Maria Korolov:
Rika, who can talk to spirits, is homeless. She’s in Berlin, and she’s trying to find shelter in an abandoned building but the other homeless who are gathered there don’t want her because, well, she creeps them out with all the talking to spirits.
Trudging through the snow on her walk to find shelter at the Central Station, she thinks about dying. Her life isn’t going anywhere, and she’s constantly being told that she’s a burden on society.
Then she hears a child-like cry for help. It’s not a child, it’s a sylph trapped under a bridge, about to die in the cold water. The sylph is nearly transparent, and looks like something between a plastic bag and a long-haired fairy. She rescues her and is able to make her way to the train station before she freezes to death.
And the roof blows up. The nature spirits are attacking the people taking shelter inside. Apparently, they have a grudge against humans for some reason. But then again, who can blame them?
A group of magic-using humans, the spirit seekers, shows up to protect the humans from the spirits, They work for a government agency that’s fighting a war against the spirits. Rika always thought that the spirit seekers can see the spirits, the way that she can. But apparently they can’t — they’re fighting them blind. She warns them of the spirits’ locations, and they ask her to continue helping them.
They try to recruit her because of her ability and are able to entice her with a warm place to sleep, some food, and a shower.
This book is a bit more serious in tone than the previous one. Rika is is frightened, and insecure, and emotionally damaged. She’s no kick-ass urban fantasy hero. But I like her. And, judging by the cover, she may turn into a kick-ass hero yet.
I like this book and will probably keep reading it.
Do you have other free books for us to check out? Email me at [email protected].
And watch today’s video, where Maria and Amira discuss all ten book, here: