Monday, April 14, 2014

Fundy Blue Reviews Alex J. Cavanaugh's "CassaStar"

When the doorbell rang last Friday,
I raced upstairs to pick up the parcel
the UPS man had left on my front doorstep:
Alex J. Cavanaugh's science fiction novel CassaStar.

I was quite curious about this book
because I had met its author Alex 
via blogging on-line.

I bought the paperback edition of CassaStar 
because I love the feel of a real book
but, it is also available in 
Kindle and Nook versions on-line.
My first impressions of Alex's book
were its comfortable size, shape, and weight
and its easy to read text.
Not to mention the warring spaceships on its cover!

I dove in expecting a shoot-'em-up Space Opera.
Yes there are spaceships and action aplenty,
but the book is primarily about friendship;
that was the big surprise for me.

In a galaxy is a star
and circling that star is the planet Cassa. 
Source:  Wikimedia

The main character is a troubled 
and rebellious young man
who has had a difficult start in life.
Byron arrives at the moon base of Guaard
determined to prove his doubters wrong
as he begins his final training 
to become a Cosbolt fighter pilot. 

If Byron completes his training successfully,
he will pilot one of the Cassan space fleet's
elite combat vessels in its war 
with the alien Vindicarns. 

The Cosbolt fighter is flown 
by a pilot and a navigator
who communicate telepathically
and who share a tight bond 
based on trust and familiarity.

Byron has not been able to bond effectively
with seven previous navigators,
and he must partner well 
with his eighth navigator Trindel 
or jeopardize his quest to become a Cosbolt pilot.

In addition to completing the challenging training,
Byron must earn the certification
of Senior Officer Bassa,
the leader and top instructor
at the premier combat training facility.
Bassa has already flagged Byron
as a potential serious problem 
before he arrives for training at Guaard. 

So begins the story, 
and I am not going to spoil the plot
by revealing more.

An Asteroid Field ~ 
Not a Good Place to Maneuver!
Source:  Wikimedia

CassaStar is not a weighty science fiction novel
with a complicated plot and numerous subplots.
Nor is it burdened with difficult science and technology.
It is a fast, fun, and straightforward read.

I flew through the book 
in two enjoyable late nights of reading.
Details about the galaxy
and the nature of the conflict between 
the Cassans and the Vindicarns are sparse, 
but the exploration of the friendships
between Byron and Trindel
and Byron and Bassa is full and satisfying.

There is an immediacy about the space battles that I loved.
Alex's fast-paced and tight writing in these scenes
made me feel like I was in the cockpit
and one with the navigator and the ship.

Cosbolt Fighter Pilot
in Her Head!
Source:  Wikimedia

CassaStar is Alex's debut novel,
and it is a solid effort.
One thing that would have improved the book
is more of a backstory to the war.
Who are the Vindicarns,
and why are they at war with the Cassans?
Just what is at stake?

Also, I am female, 
and I didn't find one female in the book!
Wait, I take that back.
There was a cameo appearance 
by Byron's older sister, Sherdan. 
Their parents died when Byron was young,
and Sherdan neglected him,
ultimately abandoning him.
Byron grew up without family or friends,
as he bounced from institution to institution.

I would have enjoyed a female fighter pilot or navigator,
but perhaps that isn't part of the Cassan culture.

Science fiction is a genre that a lot of people avoid.  
In some sci-fi books the technology, 
the science, and the world-building 
overshadow the story and its characters,
and this can turn readers away from the genre.
Alex does not make this mistake.

The story is character-driven
and is one that appeals both to readers 
who don't normally tackle science fiction
and to avid sci-fi fans like me.

I have read a lot of science fiction,
and I did not want to put the book down
until I finished it last night.

And I am absolutely going to read its sequels
CassaFire and CassaStorm.
Alex is currently working on a fourth novel in the series.

Source:  Amazon

Check out Alex J. Cavanaugh's informative and engaging blog 
where his talents in web design and graphics are in play.

If you happen to be a writer,  I invite you to visit 
the Insecure Writer's Support Groupfounded by Alex. 
This blog encourages writers, 
gives them a place to share their writing journey, 
and provides them with helpful resources 
on writing, publishing, and marketing.

Last, but not least, 

take a look at this CassaStar book trailer 
by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Source:  You Tube ~ Dancing Lemur Press

Happy reading, whatever book you are enjoying right now!


  1. Excellent review!
    I have not read any of Alex's books but may just get this one. It's not my usual genre so 2 years ago I decided I wanted to broaden my outlook and tastes and bought a couple of sci fi books. ( which i;m yet to finish!)
    Thank you for this, as it sounds like a book I'll enjoy!

    1. Thank you, Dawna! I try to push myself into broader reading as well! There are so many wonderful books just waiting to be read. I could use another lifetime just to read. Have a happy day!

  2. Great review indeed at your sea, can't stop the ninja wannabe

    1. Hey Pat, where you're at! I think it was through you that I found Alex's blog and the IWSG. And I'm so glad I did! Have a great day!

  3. Sounds good! Science fiction is best when it's character driven, as you say.

    1. Hi Debra! I think that applies to most genres! I hope that you are enjoying your week!

  4. Wow, what a surprise!!! Fundy, thank you. I'm excited that you enjoyed it. Yes, first efforts, and I did get better.
    And - there is a strong female character in the second book I think you will really enjoy.
    Thanks - you just made my morning!!

    1. Hi Alex! I love surprises, so I'm tickled that you enjoyed this one! And I will definitely look forward to a female presence in "CassaFire." All authors improve as they continue to write. Kathy Reichs was an author I discovered when her first book was published. I continued to read her books as she published them. It was fascinating to watch her development as a writer over time. Then a hit TV series "Bones"
      appeared based on her books! Who knows ~ maybe someday we'll see Byron and his Cosbolt on the big screen! But, I bet you've thought about that! Take care!

  5. Thanks, Linda! Have a good evening!

  6. Hi Fundy, how nice of you to share this book experience!
    I just love a good Sci-Fi book (or movie) as long as it is well constructed and this one seems to be!
    Now isn't a thrill to have the author dropping in a comment on your resume of his book?!!!
    It reminds me of a recent movie with Harrison Ford, Ender's game...
    The end is incredibly surprising!!
    Many thanks for your such sweet comment on my blog, you understand me perfectly!! ;-)
    Much love and keep well!

    1. Hey Noushka! I loved "Ender's Game!" I thought the movie was excellent. I had read the book before, so I knew how the movie would end. And, for once, a movie was pretty true to the original book. And yes, this book is reminiscent of that! Have a good one!

  7. Great review! I loved it as well, but I agree I would have loved a girl in it. :) I think book 2 has a love interest in it. I have to get to reading CassaFire and CassaStorm!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! And for the kind words! I've got to get the books too! I hope that you are having a great day!

  8. I too bought this book as I was curious after meeting Alex on line..I found the book entertaining but, I agree a female character would have added a new dimension. Alex did tell me book 2 had a female character so time to buy book 2 and see what that is all about. Nice review Fundy..

    1. Thanks, Truedessa! Yes #2 is on my list to get come next month. I enjoyed the male friendships. Now I'm curious to see what Alex does when he adds in the feminine touch. Have a nice weekend, and Happy Easter!

  9. A wonderful review, Fundy!
    Congrats to Alex. I loved the book too... all three in fact!

    1. Thank you, Linda! I am definitely looking forward to the next books! Have a Happy Easter!

  10. What an interesting review. Takes a good wrier to make are view fascinating!! And he was genuingly surprised - and so pleased. Nice to know a strong female character will appear in the next book. Maybe it will be characters not character, eh? Ha ha!

    1. Hey Francie! It's so good to see you! And thank you. I can't wait to read Alex's next book. It's fun to watch writers develop! Have a great weekend and Easter!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.