Tag Archive | Book Reviews

Oath of the Outcast by C.M. Banschbach (+ Giveaway!)

Guys! It’s heeeere! I’m ridiculously excited to get to share with you my most-anticipated book of the year!

I had the chance to beta-read an early version of this book last year and I’ve been dying for it to be published ever since — and it’s now out (well, book 1 is, since what used to be one novel called The Mountain Baron was cut in half and Oath of the Outcast is the first half of what is now called The Dragon Keep Chronicles) and I just read the final version and ASDFGHJKJLKDJFKLSJ I CAN’T. You need this epic book in your life!

IT’S.

SO.

GOOD.

Read on for my review and a giveaway and the rest of the info and blog tour stops!

But first, here’s a little about the book . . .


Oath of the Outcast

A lost brother.
An unwilling outlaw.
A rising enemy.
An unusual alliance.

Years ago, Rhys MacDuffy was brutally cut off from his clan, stripped of his name and inheritance, and banished to the remote Dragon Keep. Perched high above the Shang Pass in the land of Alsaya, he assumed the mantle of the Mountain Baron, serving out his sentence as the overseer of the worst outlaws and outcasts.

But one day he receives a desperate message from the clan who disowned him: MacDuffy’s Seer—his beloved brother—has been taken by their enemies.

With his band of Mountain Brigands and an unwelcome sidekick, Rhys leaves his mountain stronghold to find and rescue his brother. The tide of war is rising amongst the Clans of Alsaya, fueled by the magic-wielding sect of Druids who seek to unleash a dark force the world has long forgotten.

Can the bond of blood run deeper than banishment?


(On the author’s mantelpiece…)

Links


(The beautiful paperback I bought at Realm Makers; my tiny new dragon — Snufkin Keevan MacDuffy — who I named partially after this book; and the epic prize pack themed for Oath of the Outcast which I won in a raffle at the conference! *shrieking*)

Title: Oath of the Outcast

Author: C.M. Banschbach

  • Date read: July 25, 2019
  • Rating: 5 stars!
  • Genre: Celtic Fantasy (Am I coining this genre name? Yes, yes I am.)
  • Age: NA
  • Year pub: 2019
  • Pages: 338 (paperback)
  • Series: The Dragon Keep Chronicles, #1
  • Fave character: Rhys/the Baron (my smol floof of anger management issues)
  • Source: I received an e-ARC from the author, and also bought a paperback at Realm Makers 2019. All opinions are my own.

I’m sitting here not sure how to form words to adequately express how much I love this absolutely awesome book. I just love it so, so much! OATH OF THE OUTCAST is, hands-down, one of the best books I’ve read all year. I have an addiction to this author’s books, and this the most absolutely brilliant one yet!

I was utterly drawn in from page one, pulled into this delightfully-Celtic-esque world (can I just go live there?) full of so many awesome things. This is a story of clans and brothers, snark and stabbing, pines and mist and mountains and rugged hills and a castle by the booming sea. It’s a story of the bonds of brothers—both by blood and by friendship deeper than blood (so it’s basically my favorite thing: a buddy story, of epic proportions)—and of an outcast banished from his clan, haunted by his past and so totally done with everyone. XD

The characters and their banter and snark and stabbiness are my absolute favorite! Particularly Rhys MacDuffy/the Baron, a.k.a. my smol floof of anger management issues. I just love him so much! He says that Rhys is dead, that he has no family, that he’s just the Mountain Baron now (and has built up something of a reputation where the very name makes people turn pale), but somewhere deep inside he’s still got a little of that old Rhys buried away behind the icy exterior of the Baron. Rhys/the Baron is a deeply scarred man, too betrayed to trust again, who has given up on redemption (but I’m holding out for it!), and yet somewhere he’s got a little bit of a heart of gold left—he just won’t admit it. And he will stab you as soon as snark at you, but if you’re one of his men or his brother (who he says he doesn’t have) he’ll do anything for you. Rhys/the Baron is just one of my favorite characters of all time and so well written and just gaaah. He gives me all the feels! I kind of relate to him and love this gruff epic character so much! HE’S THE BEST. He totally makes this book!

The rest of the characters are so fabulous as well, and I found myself deeply invested in all of these totally-real people—including one of the villains who totally surprised me by making me start to get invested in him. (Not the other villains. They are still the creepiest of ever! O_O You’ll know what I mean when you finish the book. XD) They’re just all so real and enigmatic and just can I please grow up to write like this someday?

The Baron’s band of outlaws are the Cairns and they are so scary but I also love them to death. I love their loyalty to the Baron and also how they freak everyone out. XD None of Robin Hood’s “merry” men here; they’re deadly but also have hidden slivers of gold in their hearts (totally stealing that from an interview about the book because it’s SO TRUE). Bryn and Rorie and Jes and Fulke are so amazing! They’ll do anything for their Baron and it’s the absolute best.

(Oath of the Outcast at Realm Makers 2019, complete with Reese’s. Because Rhys. XD)

And then we have Alan, who used to be best friends with Rhys and is trying to get that back a little and the Baron is so done with him (but also secretly not) and just I CAN’T. THEY’RE THE BEST. I love how Alan is so fun and full of energy and then you’ll almost forget he can totally be as deadly as the other characters. And Sean, Rhys’s younger brother, who is a cinnamon roll and a Seer and Rhys will literally do anything for him, and Sean will too but Rhys won’t let him. XD And there’s a huge-spoiler character but his name starts with a D and he’s involved with one of my most-favorite tropes and alksdjflksjd I LOVE HIM. I need more with this character and I can’t wait for the next book!

It’s a spectacular story and so epic! I love it so much. It feels like a movie. A really epic, sweeping, thrilling, AMAZING movie. With just a bit of an almost-cliffhanger. XD I need the second book to be out NOW! *flails around*

This is one of only a handful of books I’ve been anxiously awaiting this year, and I’m SO thrilled it’s finally out! I was an early reader and was blown away when I read the original version, so when I say that it has only gotten better, I want you to realize how much I mean that. And I also can’t decide if this means I need the second book more because I actually know what happens . . . XD

(Realm Makers roadtrip w/ the author)

I also keep staring at it because I love the cover and I’m so happy to be holding this gorgeous book in my hands, so there’s that. *hugs it forever* (It’s so prettyyyyy. My preciousssss.)

It’s a bit dark and raw and real, so if, in the immortal words of The Princess Bride, you’re bothered by “fighting, torture, revenge” (but no true love—like, there’s no romance in this and it’s basically an awesome buddy story x10000. XD), and creepy druids with evil magic, and invented-swearing, etc., just be aware that it’s a darker story. But it’s so, so good!

I honestly have a bit of a book-hangover after reading this and I don’t know how anything I read is going to feel this awesome (until the sequel comes out next year). Ack!

I simply can’t do this book justice in a review. I could talk about it all day long! You just need to go read it, right now.

OATH OF THE OUTCAST is truly fantastic and you need it and Rhys/the Baron/smol floof of anger management issues in your life! YOU JUST DO.

(Also. Y’all. From what I know of the second book, Blood of the Seer, it’s going to be EVEN MORE amazing than this one, if that’s even possible. So. Yeah. I can’t wait for the conclusion!!)


Giveaway!

We’re giving away books! Open internationally!

  • 2 ebooks,
  • 1 paperback,
  • 1 combo pack of a bookmark and a map postcard!

Enter to win HERE!


Author Info

C.M. Banschbach is a native Texan and would make an excellent Hobbit if she weren’t so tall. She’s a pizza addict, a multi-faceted fangirl, and a firm believer in being authentic—even if it means acting like a dork sometimes! When not writing fantasy stories packed full of adventure and snark, she works as a pediatric physical therapist where she happily embraces the fact that she never actually has to grow up.

She also writes YA/MG fantasy-adventure as Claire M. Banschbach.


Tour Schedule

July 22

July 23 – Release Day!

July 24

July 25

July 26

July 27


Does or does it not sound ABSOLUTELY EPIC?? You need this book in your life! 😀 And make sure you enter the giveaway. ^_^ Let me know what you think in a comment!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Second Impressions: Short Stories Inspired By Jane Austen (Vintage Jane Austen)

I’m reviewing the short story collection Second Impressions today as part of the Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event. (All the VJA books are on a Kindle countdown deal this week, so get ’em while they’re discounted — or pick up lovely paperbacks! Find the links with my mini reviews here.)

So excited to share this sweet collection with y’all! 🙂

Title: Second Impressions: A Collection of Fiction Inspired by Jane Austen

Editor: Hannah Scheele

Authors: Hannah Scheele (Introduction), E. Kaiser Writes, Gail Bryant, Therese Peyton, Mikayla Holman, Jennifer Baxter, Hannah Jones

  • Date read: October 22, 2017
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Genre: Short stories / Retellings (Jane Austen) / Contemporary / Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Kingdom Adventure / Sci-Fi
  • Age: Anyone
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 222
  • Series: Vintage Jane Austen (this is a bonus to go with it; it’s not actually in the 1930s like the others)
  • Source: I received a free e-copy of this book for review purposes; these opinions are entirely my own.
  • Links: AmazonGoodreadsAbout the Authors

The moment I read the opening line of the first story in this collection (from “Chocolate Surprise” by E. Kaiser Writes) — “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman, in possession of any income at all, must be in want of some chocolate.” — I knew I was going to have the best time reading these stories. I was right. ^_^

From the lovely introduction right through each of these nine tales to the end of the collection, I was touched and charmed and smiling (or laughing), and overall delighting in finding these sweet gems, retelling or otherwise revisiting Jane Austen’s tales in many different colorful ways.

We have four set in modern times, two in the original time period (like a direct prequel and sequel), one in the 1950s, one non-magical fantasy, one kingdom adventure, and even a sci-fi story! Three involve Emma, two Pride and Prejudice, two Mansfield Park, and one each of Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility. I enjoyed them all!

Below are my mini-thoughts on each entry. Second Impressions (I love the play on titles, harking back to Pride and Prejudice’s early title “First Impressions”!) is a lovely add-on to the Vintage Jane Austen series. One thing is for sure: if you like Jane Austen’s works at all, you’re going to want to give these stories a try! 🙂

Introduction – Hannah Scheele

5 stars

Hannah collected a varied and sweet bunch of stories in the contest for this collection, designed absolutely gorgeous covers for the Vintage Jane Austen series, and wrote a delightful introduction too! This was a lovely introduction, full of heart and honesty and a touch of wit; perfect for the collection. I read it twice, before and after reading the stories. It made me happy. ^_^

Chocolate Surprise – E. Kaiser Writes

5 stars

At the beginning, I wasn’t totally sure which retelling this was, or if I’d like it, but pretty soon everything clicked and I was like “OH!” and the pieces fell together. And I loved the end! I also loved the letter, and Kingston was great. 😀 It’s set in the 1950s, and the color and detail was fabulous and so vivid. I shall allow you to discover the story it retells, yourself, but overall I really enjoyed it! 🙂

Gently Pursued, Finally Persuaded – Gail Bryant

5 stars

Aww, so sweet! 🙂 A Contemporary retelling of Persuasion, set in the 1990s, this was an unconventional love story, with a Christian theme and a thread of humor. It said this was the author’s first short story, but you would never have known it! The writing was well seasoned and full of clever or fun turns of phrases scattered throughout. The story left me with a smile. ^_^ Lovely!

The Secret of Pemberly Estate – Therese Peyton

4 stars

I wasn’t so sure about this one. It’s a direct sort of sequel to Pride and Prejudice, set in 1815. I had just re-read Pride and Prejudice, and some of the characters in this story seemed to act out of character, to me at least, and some of the plot confused me. It was, however, very original/thrilling/theatrical, like a mystery. Not my favorite, but it did have vivid imagery and was an interesting read. 🙂

Emma’s Irritation – Mikayla Holman

5 stars

Eep, I loved this one! It’s a sort of prequel, set a few years before Emma, and features a teenage Emma and her relationship with Mr. Knightley, as well as some scenes fans of Emma will find intriguing and fun. Mr. Knightley felt very Mr. Knightley ish! He was great. And I could imagine Emma herself being something like that as a teen. I loved the bantering dialog and fun! And just… really enjoyed it. 🙂

Mother’s Day – Jennifer Baxter

5 stars

Aww! ^_^ I can’t really explain this one without giving it away, somehow, but it was an extremely unique and touching twist on a Sense and Sensibility story in a modern setting. It’s very short, but every word counts, and just… I don’t know! It was subtle but just lovely. 🙂

The Mansfield – E. Kaiser Writes

5 stars

OH MY GOODNESS. This story! I never would have imagined Jane Austen in space would work as well as this did. The idea of Mansfield Park’s story taking place on a spaceship (instead of in a mansion) was genius and worked astonishingly well. The characters and dialog were great (the worldbuilding too) and the Mansfield Park story translated SO well to this new in-space setting that it was just delightful! 🙂 I don’t even read much sci-fi but this was great. XD

Elaina – Hannah Jones

5 stars

I was trying to categorize this, and I think I came up with Christian Fiction and the newly named Kingdom-Adventure genre. (There wasn’t really adventure? But hey.) This retelling of Emma set in a kingdom of knights. etc., and featuring her as a princess, was so neat! Again, it translated really well, and I thought that was great fun. 🙂 Amazing how well a little kingdom works to replace Emma’s small town!

Peace in the Orchard – E. Kaiser Writes

5 stars

Imagine Pride and Prejudice set in an idyllic, non-magical, fantasy-type kingdom where Mr. Darcy is a dragon-slaying king, and you pretty much have this one in a nutshell. XD There’s a lot of lovely description of this original, fantastic world, and it mainly focuses on the Elizabeth and Jane characters. The orchard scene at the end was my favorite. 🙂

Maid in Houston – Jennifer Baxter

4 stars

This was a Contemporary retelling of Mansfield Park, featuring a Hispanic heroine — who I quite liked — and a modern setting in Houston. It was a little strange to me, but had some lovely parts and overall it was a very good retelling of Mansfield Park, and so fluidly written and original! It’s about every-day people, and I loved that. The part at the end about love was beautiful. ^_^

~ ~ ~

The Vintage Jane Austen Blog Event

Check out the rest of the blog tour, and the giveaway!

November 5

November 6

November 7

November 8

November 9

November 10

November 11

Giveaway

As part of this special blogging event (November 5-11), we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift Card.

Enter to win HERE.

So what do you think? Does Second Impressions sound intriguing? Which story are you most curious about?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer