Free Fiction Friday #86

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #86! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Science Fiction & Fantasy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: Hers, Untamed

review-cover-hers untamedTitle: Hers, Untamed

Author: Anna Adler

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Alyssa Cressfield always wanted a pet—a big, sexy man who would look impressive on a leash. Now, she is finally ready to realize her dream. She visits a pet training center, intending to buy a trained pet. Instead she finds Jax, a fierce human-alien hybrid freshly caught from space, still untamed and unbroken. Alyssa has never encountered an untamed pet before. She can’t resist temptation; she must have him.

On Silenia, it is customary for humans to keep other intelligent species as pets and sex toys. Alyssa is kind at heart, but she is a product of her society and therefore sees nothing wrong with keeping a man in a cage against his will. Jax, on the other hand, is a space pirate who now finds himself wearing a collar and being treated like property. He has no intention of turning tame and obedient, and a battle of wills ensues. Jax and Alyssa quickly discover their undeniable chemistry, but is it enough to reconcile them? What happens when the pet breaks out of his cage?

Note to reader: This is a standalone novel featuring a romance between a human and a human-alien hybrid. While not dark, the story is set in a dystopian society and contains some raunchy sex scenes between the main characters. Recommended for mature readers.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m giving this story a rather tentative 3 stars. Here’s the thing: a lot of readers aren’t going to like this book. It’s firmly in the Erotic Fiction category—not romance as purported. There’s quite a bit of king, some taboo leanings, and there’s a lot of explicit sex. It’s going to be too much for some readers to handle, particularly if they go into the book expecting a romance. If those things don’t interest you, you’re going to want to move on.

That being said, I did have some gripes of my own. Although the level of kink and explicit sex in this book aren’t what I’m personally interested in, they don’t bother me. I read a lot of books, most of those falling squarely in the romance and erotica genres. What does bother me is the very clear association in this book with slavery and abuse. If this story took place in the real world, it wouldn’t be sexy—it’d be horrifying. There are many individuals in the book that are kidnapped, held against their will, mentally broken, and then forced to perform as pets for the wealthy. No matter how it’s justified in the book, it’s wrong. It’s hard for me to appreciate a book that relies on sex and romance to blind the reader to the fact that the main male lead has had his basic rights violated in this manner.

That being said, the book was well written. The romance was steamy, I adored the male lead as a character, and it had a happy ending. All of these are good things—but that doesn’t completely overshadow how intrinsically wrong the main premise of the story is. Even though I liked the book as a whole, I am very uncomfortable with the slavery aspect of its plotline. Because it’s fiction and everything worked out in the end, I’m willing to try to look past the less-than-savory aspects of the plot, but that doesn’t mean they don’t bother me. A lot of readers are not going to enjoy this book because of it.

Another thing I didn’t enjoy was the portrayal of the main female lead. Despite her purported intelligence and expertise, she came across as naïve, wanton, and rather airheaded. She was clever only when it served to thwart the main male lead, but refused to use her intellect to question her own society and their treatment of outside life forms. She questioned nothing that went against her own brainwashed utopian beliefs—and I find it hard to believe that someone so intelligent wouldn’t ask questions.

Overall, it was a fun read. There were definitely parts of the story I enjoyed and some I didn’t, but throughout, I was thoroughly entertained. This book isn’t for everyone. If you’re a sensitive reader, I’d recommend looking for something a bit more traditional, but if you enjoy a taste of the taboo, this is a safe way to be entertained for a few hours.

Book Review: Captured By The Alien King

review-cover-Captured By The Alien KingTitle: Captured by the Alien King – The Complete Series [Captured by the Alien King 1-5]

Author: Lisa Lace

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

When I saw my chance to get off Earth, I took it. I knew I needed to escape. I didn’t know I’d be claimed by an alien monarch in the middle of his mating season! Now we’re on the run together, facing terrorists and natural disasters.

I’m still trying to figure out my feelings for this sexy guy. He is totally into me, but he has some unique ideas about alien romance…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I honestly thought this book was going to be something different than it was. The title is a flat out lie—I’ll just say it. The main character is never “captured” by an alien king. It simply doesn’t happen. Going into this book, I didn’t know that, and it threw me off—because I kept waiting for something to happen that never did.

It’s hard for me to qualify this book because, on the one hand, I did enjoy it. it was a fast-paced, easy to read book, with likable characters, some fresh ideas, and an intriguing plot. The romance between Dar and Kenna was at times endearing, and at other times, incredibly steamy. I liked them as a couple and I was rooting for them throughout the story. There’s a lot I could say in favor of this book. I was thoroughly entertained.

But…

There was also quite a bit about this book that was less than stellar. There were some pretty obvious typos, most commonly where words were entirely omitted from sentences, or extra words were left in. There were several times I had to re-read passages to make sure I wasn’t imagining the fact that they didn’t make sense–and I didn’t imagine it. The characters, though likable, lacked much depth, and in some cases, their motivations seemed fairly shallow.

In other instances it became very apparent that the world building was only skin deep–and this was one of the most frustrating parts of the story for me. Here was this imaginative story about aliens from another world and the tentative relationship between two races… but the aliens looked just like us, talked just like us, had the same motivations as us…and spoke like us. They often used slang and phrases that I can’t imagine would naturally occur on another planet so readily. The world building had very little substance to it—and it could have, and indeed should have. It felt… lazy, and I expected more.

Was it a bad book? No. Like I said, I thoroughly enjoyed it… but it was only an “okay” book in the end because I think a lot more could have been done to make it better than it was—obvious, simple things. I gave this book three stars because it was kind of in the middle. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, kind of fluffy romance read with some steamy bits and lots of action/adventure, I’d recommend you give this book a shot. You may enjoy it.

Book Review: Configured

review-cover-configuredTitle: Configured [Configured 1]

Author: Jenetta Penner

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

In the future love will make you a traitor.

120 years after a virus decimated earth’s population the survivors thrive in safety, away from the death and destruction of the Outerbounds. Divided into three levels of intellect, Citizens focus solely on duty.

Due to her advanced intelligence, seventeen-year-old Avlyn Lark is separated from her twin brother at birth and raised by adoptive parents. She gains privilege, the ideal future. He dies. Avlyn barely knows him yet remains linked to his memory.

But following a string of rebel intrusions on the city, Avlyn receives a cryptic message and begins seeing visions of her dead twin. The mysterious radical who urges Avlyn to join their fight becomes her link to answers. Freedom.

Opportunity awaits, but if she says yes will she lose it all?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Configured by Jenetta Penner. Although it was yet another dystopian in an already saturated market, there were aspects to Avlyn’s story that were very new.

As far as the technical aspects of the book are concerned, Configured was exceedingly well written. The narrative flowed well, there were no obvious technical mistakes, and I easily got sucked into the story from beginning to end.

The characters were interesting and likable. Avlyn and her love interests were, of course, my favorites—complicated would be an understatement. The romance was one of the draws of the book for me (I’m all about that romantic tension!)

Overall, it was a good, solid start to the series, and I greatly enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of Young Adult Dystopian reads, this is definitely a book you’re going to want to pick up. I honestly don’t have anything to complain about with Configured, and I can’t wait to delve further into the series!

Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo

review-cover-cloud cuckooTitle: Cloud Cuckoo [The Never Dawn 2]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Following their shock discovery, Noah and Rebekah reluctantly return to the lower levels of The Ark. Isolated and apart once more, Noah struggles to remember what happened at the surface and suspects Mother has altered his memory.

But Noah’s attempts to unite the workers to rebel are halted when Mother begins The Purge. Her cruel, relentless trials bring Noah to breaking point as he fights to survive when faced by his worst fears. Forced to accept Mother’s terms after a month in Re-Education, Noah finally learns the truth about his people’s past that leave him determined to defeat her once and for all.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Cloud Cuckoo by R. E. Palmer was a great addition to the Never Dawn trilogy. Often after a good book, subsequent books in the series don’t always live up to the quality or the hype of the first book, but in this case, that definitely wasn’t true. My daughter and I read this book together and often found ourselves reading for several hours at a time, often into the wee hours of the morning. We were sucked into Noah’s world.

Technically speaking, much like the first book, I was given a copy that had quite a few typos/errors in it, but again, these didn’t bother me. None of the errors were jarring or subtracted from the story in any way. The writing was clean, concise, and easy to follow, and the story moved at a good pace. It was constructed in such a way that by the end of every chapter, I couldn’t keep myself from continuing on into the next chapter. I was drawn in.

Much like the previous book, the characters were a delight and the world building was expansive and well constructed. One of my favorite parts of this particular book, however, was the change in scenery for Noah. We got to see new parts of the ship. We got to spend more time with characters we hadn’t previously gotten to. There were the same old mysteries, but also a lot of new ones as Noah found out more and more about his world and the people in it.

Overall, I loved this book. I love this series, and my daughter would easily say the same. R.E. Palmer has become one of my new favorite authors. If you enjoy YA or dystopian stories, I would highly recommend you pick up this series and give it a try. You will not regret it. I am so excited to see what the third book has in store for us when it’s released!

Book Review: The Never Dawn

review-cover-the never dawnTitle: The Never Dawn [The Never Dawn 1]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

All his young life, Noah has longed to see the sky he’s only heard about in stories. For over one hundred years, Noah’s people have toiled deep beneath the Earth preparing for The New Dawn – the historic day when they will emerge to reclaim the land stolen by a ruthless enemy.

But when Rebekah, the girl of his forbidden desire, discovers a secret their leader has been so desperate to keep, Noah suspects something is wrong. Together, they escape and begin the long climb to the surface. But nothing could prepare them for what awaits outside.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The Never Dawn by R.E. Palmer was so much more than I ever expected. The writing was clear, concise, easy to follow, and flowed at an easy pace. There were quite a few typos in my copy, but I’m honestly not that upset about it. None of the errors were enough to jolt me out of the story.

The characters were interesting and at times, painfully naïve, but their naiveté is also what made them so fascinating. The world Noah and his dorm-mates inhabited was so well crafted, and the characters so well defined, that it was impossible not to get sucked into their monotonous life. There was a lot of mystery surrounding the Ark and the lives of the people there and it kept me reading.

In fact, I liked it so much that at the end of chapter 12, I put the book down and restarted reading the entire book with my 13-year-old daughter—and when we stopped reading at 50% so she could go to bed… I sneakily read the rest of the book on my own. I then read the second half of the book a second time with her the next day.

If you like post-apocalyptic, dystopian, YA, or mysteries, I would highly recommend you invest in this book. I can’t wait to continue with the series! My daughter lamented last night that she’ll probably never find a book as good as this one again—it has replaced her favorite book. I am blown away that this author has gone relatively unknown for the past four years.

Book Review: The Journal of Curious Letters

review-cover-the journal of curious lettersTitle: The Journal of Curious Letters [The 13th Reality 1]

Author: James Dashner

Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

What if every choice you made created an alternate reality? InThe Journal of Curious Letters, Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is an average thirteen-year-old boy until the day he receives a strange letter informing him that dangerous— perhaps even deadly—events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. Tick will be sent twelve riddles that, when solved, will reveal the time and place of an extraordinary happening. Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues and discover the life he was meant to live? Tick’s journey continues in The Hunt for Dark Infinity! Mistress Jane and the Chi’karda are back. Tick and Mistress Jane race to find the deadly Dark Infinity weapon. But who will destroy it—and who will become its master?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What a gem! I picked up this book for my 12-year-old daughter and we ended up reading it together. I’m glad to say that I honestly found this to be a joy to read.

The book was exceptionally well written and full of colorful characters. There were funny, heartwarming, action-filled, and even creepy moments throughout the book as Tick worked to solve the mystery of the 13 clues he received from one very odd Master George and his companions, Rutger and Mothball (who was definitely one of our favorite characters).

One of my favorite aspects of the book as a parent, though, was the relationship Tick had with his father. Where most children’s books seem to either omit the parents, or fall into the trope of having the parents not believe their children, James Dashner crafted The Journal of Curious Letters in such a way that not only did Tick turn to his father with his worries, but Tick’s father believed his son—and helped him! It was a great moment to witness in a children’s book, and I and my daughter had a great talk about how important it was for kids to talk to their parents about their worries, and for parents to listen to them and take them seriously.

Overall, we found loved the book. It was exciting, funny, and full of interesting characters. It’s a bit of a long book, but I’m not complaining—we never wanted to put it down, and often read 5-10  chapters together a night until it was finished.