Over the past year or so, I’ve been downloading and reading free ebooks from a number of sources – partly because I have a weakness for free, partly because I want to find greats reads for you that you don’t have to shell out a penny for!
But sometimes “you get what you pay for”. Sometimes a book is free because we wouldn’t slog through it for any other reason.
Is that the rule? Are the reading-gems the exception? I’ve dug back through my review archives to figure out which books are worth reading (and worth paying for, even if I didn’t have to).
Note: All deals are listed as of this writing. Authors naturally have the prerogative to change how they charge for their works. By that same token, some books that I loved but couldn’t list because they didn’t qualify might become free again later 😉!
These books are classics – therefore free by virtue of being in the public domain. However, just because their author is dead doesn’t mean we should ignore them!
*** “I Liked It”
Classic whodunit, packed with suspicious characters, subtle clues, and realistic humans. Also, Poirot isn’t as pompous here as he later grows to be!
A Double Barrelled Detective Story, Mark Twain
*** “I Liked It”
A quick and humorous story, wherein Mark Twain pokes fun at the whole “detective story” genre, as well as at human nature.
Cautions: minor family abuse, and murder
***** “Classic for Good Reason!”
If you’ve never actually read the original version for yourself, you need to fix that! I fixed it last Christmas, and I’m so glad I experienced Dickens’ original tale of self-destruction, grace, and redemption!
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
***** “All-time Favorite”
It might seem that to pen a review of literary titaness Jane Austen’s best-known (and possibly best-loved) novel would be presumptuous.
Nevertheless, I shall proceed to gild the lily and explain why, when I finally crossed its threshold several years ago, I found it worthy of every adulation ever laid at its door.
TL;DR: what are you still doing here? go read this book!
When London Burned, G.A. Henty
**** “A Perennial Favorite”
The works of G.A. Henty formed a staple of my childhood literary diet, and When London Burned is one of my favorites. Although Henty’s works are strongly formulaic, there’s no denying his formula’s power to create engrossing, rollicking adventures with an undercurrent of history.
Cautions: kidnapping; battles
New But Free
These are more modern works, available for free to whoever’s willing to take a chance on them. And I recommend you do take the chance!
Dreamlander, K.M. Weiland
**** “Good Read”
An excellent portal fantasy with a truly magnificent hero that rushes on to a nail-biting climax.
The love interest is one of my least favorite heroines, but that doesn’t stop this from being a good, entertaining read.
In-depth characterization, thoughtful Christianity, and an authentic teenage voice help set this story apart from the other books about lost children and teens finding their way.
If you like contemporary coming-of-age stories (and crazy, fun grandmas!) this is worth a look.
Made In Yorkshire: 1964, James Farner
*** “I Liked It”
Made in Yorkshire: 1964 is exactly what the title says: a story of the life of one boy (Richard Warren) in Ledder Bridge, Yorkshire in 1964. Quiet, yet engaging, it’s a gentle read that nevertheless touches harsh things.
The Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales collection is currently free on Amazon, and while I have yet to read all the stories, Rumpled by J. Grace Pennington and Death Be Not Proud by Suzannah Rowntree are worth the price of admission (!)
Cautions: Death contains a murder mystery; Rumpled discusses conception, but not in such a way that anyone uninitiated will understand.
(Death Be Not Proud is also available on its own)
There’s a Catch
These are free via signing up for the author’s newsletter. Some people aren’t willing to clog their in-boxes, even for a free book.
**** “Fun Mystery”
Also available above as part of the Once collection, you can grab this eery yet enthralling Jazz Age mystery by joining the author’s mailing list!
Behold the Dawn, K.M. Weiland
**** “Emotionally Fulfilling”
You can currently get K.M. Weiland’s medieval romance Behold the Dawn by signing up for her newsletter in the sidebar of her website. Here is; with the distance of time, I much prefer the romance in this book to Ms. Weiland’s Dreamlander.
Cautions: medieval fight scenes, wounds, and references to sexual assault
Amazon’s Blue Plate Specials
If you’re a member of Amazon Prime (which I am not currently) you can borrow these books for free via Kindle Unlimited (again, as of this writing).
Rules of Murder, Julianna Deering
*** “I liked it”
Rich, well-dressed English gentlemen, indefatigably discreet butlers, coy yet conspiratorial society girls, and plenty of fresh corpses populate this period piece where no one is as they seem.
Deering’s detective is no Lord Peter Wimsey, but by openly paying homage to the titans and conventions of the genre, and including a corkscrew-worth of plot twists, she writes a mystery to satisfy true fans.
Cautions: murder, corpses
***** “New All-time Favorite”
Mrs. Grace has a gift for penning spiritually deep stories. Never is what hooked me on her, and not only contains a Western mystery and sibling loyalty, but soul-plumbing truth as well.
Just let me say I recently bought the paperback, after already owning the ebook version. I want this book forever.
Implant, J. Grace the Author
**** “A Good Read”
Gordon Harding is supremely unlucky. After losing his parents, he discovers his health issues mean he has a life expectancy of five more years.
His one hope may be an experimental medical device, but before he can undergo treatment, he’s yanked into a dystopian world that challenges what he thought to be true.
While it felt less developed than Never, Implant was still an intense sci-fi adventure that was fun to read (and the paperback version is truly beautiful).
*** “I Liked It”
Through the sewers and cobblestone streets of a psuedo-Victorian fantasy world, Reese leads an outlawed band on the run from police because of the special magical abilities they possess. The action almost never slows as Reese frantically throws plans together and tries to rescue as many of the “abilitied” as possible.
While the world-building was fun and the superhero action engaging, I felt it lacked the depth of character development and spiritual theme that I found in Never. But for a blockbuster-feel fantasy novel, it works great.
That’s a Wrap
I’ll probably have more free books to talk about next year… Until then, keep reading, and keep checking back as I share the best books I find!
What are some of your favorites? Have you been bitten by a “free book” that wasn’t worth the digital storage space? What books are so amazing you’d gladly pay for it?
Disclaimer: Each individual review will disclose how I obtained a book, if it was free via a promotion, a mailing-list sign-up, a raffle, or otherwise. I do buy books sometimes – this is not usually disclosed in the review.
She currently lives somewhere in the American Midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by writing books, knitting hats, baking cookies…and other excuses for not gardening.