This month’s Spotlight Week features Sci Fi novels CassaStar and CassaFire by author and ninja blogger Alex Cavanaugh.


CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh

6×9 Trade paperback, 240 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction – space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5 $15.95
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9 $4.99

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockipit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron’s tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive and Bassa must make a decision that  could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

My Review

Alex Cavanaugh accomplishes a rare feat in his first novel, CassaStar. He has created a character-driven Sci-Fi story that isn’t weighed down by scientific jargon or technological lingo.

The story is set primarily in space and there is no mention of Earth or what galaxy the Cassans live in. The Cassan race appears to be similar to the human race except for the fact that they have mental powers that allow them to communicate through thoughts and even teleport from one place to another.

Alex doesn’t waste time explaining the use of telepathy and mind power to pilot ships. Instead, he incorporates these cool concepts into the plot itself. Trusting his readers to understand these concepts, along with other world building  aspects, Alex focuses on the development of his two main characters, Byron and Bassa.

Byron, the rookie pilot and Bassa, the experienced commander, are very likeable characters. Their own individual journeys and the path that leads them to each other is at the very heart of the story.  Byron has trouble trusting people and Bassa’s regrets constantly haunt him. In the end, Bassa gets his second chance through Byron, and Byron in turn learns to open up his heart through Bassa.

The plot in itself is fast-paced and the battle scenes between the Cassan fleet and the enemy Vindicarn ships are thrilling. Although Alex doesn’t describe the actual fighter ships in detail, it’s easy to picture the powerful Cosbolts and speedy Dartens going up against the invading armada.

The one thing I miss in CassaStar was the presence of female characters. I didn’t miss having a love story, but I did long to see a mention of female pilots at least.

Lack of female characters aside, however, I truly enjoyed reading CassaStar. It’s a fast-paced, thrilling Sci- Fi adventure, but it’s also a heartwarming story about friendship, trust, honor and self-sacrifice.

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
6×9 Trade paperback, 246 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction – space opera/adventure
Print ISBN 978-0-9816210-6-7 $15.95
EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-3-8 $2.99

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend – to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

My Review

In this sequel to CassaStar, Alex Cavanaugh proves once again that he is a master of character development.

The story is set primarily in the newly discovered planet of Tgren, and there aren’t as many space battle scenes as there were in CassaStar. However, this doesn’t in any way make the story less exciting.  Alex still manages to thrill his readers through some fast-paced action scenes and key plot points.

CassaFire follows veteran war hero Byron in his new life. Byron has kept his promise to mentor and friend Bassa and has become a pilot on an exploration team. Years ago, Bassa took Byron under his tutelage and became his only friend. Now Byron finds himself befriending an insecure, yet brilliant computer analyst named Mevine. Using the things he’s learned from Bassa, Byron coaxes the young officer out of his shell and becomes both friend and mentor.

In this book, I found what I’d been missing in the first installment of the story: a strong, female character. Athee is independent, free-spirited and just as excellent a pilot as Byron was when he was younger. She’s also a jumper like Byron, capable of teleporting  from one place to another, without the use of a power source. But unlike Byron, she possesses other mental abilities that makes her a valuable asset to both her native land of Tgren, and to the Cassan fleet. I actually loved how she was far more powerful than Byron in terms of mental powers.

I enjoyed witnessing her growth as a character, and seeing her relationship with Byron blossom into something more than friendship. Giving Byron a love connection made the story even more of an emotional aspect than the previous book.

I also liked the fact that the sequel explains the lack of women in the Cassan Navy, and the difference between Cassan men’s and women’s mental abilities.

Alex Cavanaugh continues his wonderful story-telling in CassaFire. It is an exciting and enjoyable read, containing equal measures of action-adventure and drama. It’s definitely a must read for any Sci-Fi fan.

Links to purchase CassaFire:


Tune in this Wednesday for the 2nd installment in this Spotlight series, where I feature an interview with author Alex Cavanaugh!

8,347 total views, 4 views today

Be Sociable, Share!


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

51 Responses to “Spotlight Week: CassaStar & CassaFire by Alex Cavanaugh, A Book Review”

  1. L'Aussie says:

    Hi there! Great to see both these books reviewed together. I was glad Alex listened to his readers and created Athee for his second book. Great reviews.


  2. Oh wow! Thank you. I’m honored you enjoyed both books so much. What a way to start my day!

  3. Wow… Alex is the man, the book reviews are glowing! I am glad he is out there doing what he should be doing… writing and being like blogger family to many of us.

    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    Howlin’ Wolf Records: On-Line Magazine

  4. Great reviews–and I agree! Wonderfully written books.

  5. Karen Lange says:

    Great reviews! Thanks for sharing them both. Wishing Alex much success!

  6. Laura Eno says:

    That’s great putting both reviews together like that…just in case anybody on the planet hasn’t heard of our Ninja yet. :)

  7. Brinda says:

    I read the first book and agree with the review. I skipped reading the second review because I haven’t read Alex’s sequel yet and I’m afraid of spoilers! Great review on Cassa Star.

  8. PK Hrezo says:

    Awesome review! Character driven sci-fi is always a winner in my book. I’ve got CassaFire downloaded and ready to read! :)

  9. Definitely a great way to start the week for Alex!

  10. Arlee Bird says:

    More good reviews to add to the collection.

    Tossing It Out

  11. Cindy says:

    Great posting and reviews on both of Alex’s books. :) Enjoyed reading!

  12. Laura, thanks, I’m sure there are plenty out there though.

    Brinda, good idea to skip second review, although no major spoilers.

    PK, thanks!

    Nutschell, thanks again.

  13. Kela M says:

    Stopping by to check out the post about Alex. I haven’t gotten to either book yet though, so I’m skipping over the reviews in case there are spoilers. I don’t want to be spoiled. 😉

  14. Bossy Betty says:

    So glad you reviewed Alex’s books. I wuv Alex!

  15. Lydia K says:

    Alex’s books rock! I confess, I also thought you were going to host him and show off his writing space, Nutschell. You have to ask him back! (or did I miss a previous post?)

  16. I have his book, but I haven’t read it yet. You are nudging me to get into it, Nutschell. Very nice review, indeed.

  17. Kela, we don’t want to spoil you!

    Aw, thanks Betty!

    Lydia, that is Wednesday.

    Lee, if you’re like me, you have dozens of books waiting to be read.

  18. Jay Noel says:

    Thank you so much for reviewing to great books by one of my favorite bloggers/writers on the interwebs. I’m looking forward to reading CassaFire!

  19. Great reviews. Not only is Alex Cavanaugh a Ninja Blogger, he’s also a Ninja Writer.

  20. These are excellent reviews, Nutschell. Thanks for giving Alex’s novels this well-deserved attention.

  21. Johanna says:

    I have Alex’s first book all loaded up on my Kindle and ready to go. Now I just need to finish 1Q84 and I’ll be able to dive in!

  22. ediFanoB says:

    Two great interviews!! What a start of the week. Alex will be pleased!
    It is good to read and see how many people like Alex’ books.

  23. I loved CassaStar & am awaiting CassaFire soon. And I don’t even read sci-fi. But Alex is a great writer & his books prove how popular & well-loved he really is.

    (BTW, you listed CassaStar the second time instead of CassaFire.)

  24. Lynn Kelley says:

    Awesome reviews, Nutschell! I’m looking forward to your other posts about Alex this week!

  25. Liza says:

    Great review. Congratulations to Alex, who deserves such good feedback.

  26. You described Alex’s books perfectly. Characters make or break a book for me.

  27. Honey says:

    I’m not a sci-fi reader but now I’m interested. Characters make the story and it sounds really good.

  28. I loved CassaStar and can’t wait to read CassaFire! Great reviews.
    Yay Alex!

  29. Great reviews! A character driven sci-fi? I was hooked after that first line.

  30. Thanks, Jay – appreciate that!

    Johanna, thank you. Hope you enjoy it.

    Nancy, thanks for trying something new.

    Thanks, everyone! They are light on tech, I promise.

  31. Lynda Young says:

    I’m so thrilled for Alex that he’s gain so much success from his books. They truly are great reads!!!

  32. klahanie says:

    Most unusual for me. However, I’m going to leave a rather short comment. Hey “The Writing Nut”, really good to see the legend that is, that is, oh yeah, that is Alex J.,and this excellent review.
    Oh, is that a peanut in your icon photo? We all know a peanut is a bean…..Bean there, done that…
    Take care and thanks,

  33. I have read too many reviews. I guess I have to read the books now.

  34. Michael says:

    Great reviews…actually, review because I can’t bring myself to read any reviews from CassaFire yet. I want to remain in the dark. I’m looking forward to reading it though. :)

  35. Jennie says:

    I’m a HUGE Alex fan – as a person as well as a writer. Your reviews did him far more justice than mine! I’m not a big Science Fiction reader and he reeled me in with both. That’s the biggest compliment I can give him. After CassaStar, I couldn’t wait for CassaFire! Great job, Nutschell. You give such fabulous reviews – of books, of authors, of events!

  36. I can’t wait to geek out over Alex’s novels. They’ve been in my TBR “pile” for too long! :)

  37. Awesome review. I have both of Alex’s books and I’ve been meaning to put them higher up my TBR pile–I’ve come across plenty of praise for his work and I do enjoy sci-fi.

  38. Lynda, thanks!

    Gary, no legend, just a dude trying his best.

    Jennie, thanks so much!

    Carrie and Medeia, thank you.

  39. tara tyler says:

    these adventures remind me of a modernized star trek. great stuff!

  40. Misha says:

    Loved loved loved CassaStar. Definitely want to read CassaFire, although I’m holding off on buying any books until I’ve bought my Kindle. :-)

  41. I have CassaFire on my kindle and shall be reading it soon!

  42. Tara, that’s a high compliment!

    Misha, hope it doesn’t disappoint.

    Michael, that’s good to hear!

  43. I really like these reviews, Nutschell. It gives much greater insight into the books and the characters. I look forward to reading both of them. In fact, my husband is a big sci-fi reader, so I may have him read the books first.

  44. Awesome reviews!

    Alex and his books deserve all the attention they can get.

  45. I will definitely check back in tomorrow to read the interview. I love visiting Alex’s blog. I have these books both on my reading list and may have to move them up after reading these reviews.

    Great reviews!

  46. Ella says:

    Nice to meet you~ Great reviews! I am looking forward to CassaStorm 😀

  47. Ciara Knight says:

    Great reviews. These are both great books.

  48. Mary says:

    I enjoyed cassastar and am still in the middle of cassafire. Alex excels with character.

  49. Susan, thank you!

    Sabrina, appreciate that.

    Mary, thanks for the great compliment.

    Thanks again everyone for commenting on the reviews and Nutschell for posting them – and understanding what they were all about!

  50. Melissa Bradley says:

    Terrific reviews for these epically awesome books. I can’t get enough of Alex’s world. I wonder if we ban together and become his patrons, do you think he would write all day instead of working a day job? LOL

    Yes, Alex, I really wish there was a lot more of your fantastic stories to read. :)

  51. Oh, so that’s what Alex looks like. I think I just saw him in the grocery store. 😀

    I see him everywhere on the blogs. And now I know why. He spends hours a day blogging.

    Thanks Writing Nut for another great interview.

Your COMMENTS Brighten Up My Writing Days!