Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Flash Review: CassaStar

This is a brand new Friday Flash - my first Friday Flash Review! And I'm starting right at the top with Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh's first book, CassaStar. And I was lucky enough to have Alex stop by and share a few thoughts, which you'll find below my review, so please keep reading.

Goodreads Description of CassaStar...

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. 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.

My Humble Opinion...

Alex wrote a sci-fi novel that will appeal to more than sci-fi readers. CassaStar is a character driven story delivered to the reader through a sci-fi universe. It is not bogged down with the world building detail that sci-fi and fantasy books typically have, but paints enough of a picture and lets the reader fill in the rest. Alex has written a streamlined story that propels the plot forward at an enjoyable pace from beginning to end.

CassaStar primarily focuses on the relationship between the rookie, maverick pilot, Byron, and his experienced and highly decorated instructor/navigator, Bassa. From the beginning, Bassa sees Byron as his late younger brother and takes a special interest in him. Byron enters the flight training program as a cocky loner and an extremely gifted pilot with the rare gift of “jumping” (teleporting). Preparing for battle against an alien race called the Vindicarn, the men are dependent on each other for survival. Pilots and navigators communicate through telepathy, allowing unfiltered access to the other’s suppressed thoughts, memories, and fears. Trust is essential. But trust has to be earned, which is how the relationship between the two men is tested and strengthened throughout the story.

As much as I enjoyed CassaStar, I would like to know more about the Vindicarn. The closest we, the readers, come to them is from a spaceship away in battle, never up close. They are a faceless villain. But that would just add description, not change the story. CassaStar is a powerful story of friendship and trust, honor and self-sacrifice. Alex takes a familiar and universal storyline and builds a powerful and unique story. The second book in the trilogy, CassaFire, is currently available, and I’m looking forward to continuing the journey.  

A few minutes with Alex...

Thanks so much for joining me today! You are a giant in the blogging world, with an impressive list of loyal followers, and starting your third book, CassaStorm. So I very much appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your busy day to talk with me.

What were your biggest influences and inspiration for CassaStar?
The biggest influences were science fiction movies and shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and Buck Rogers. I liked the idea of adventure in space. Galactica probably influenced me the most, as I really liked the Vipers and battle sequences. There’s also a bit of Star Trek in there as well, because the human element is the most important.

Looking back to when you just started your blog, two short years ago, how did you go about attacking the blogging world? What was your experience like just starting out?
I had no idea what I was doing! I started my blog on November 9, 2009 with a post that basically said “Hi, I’m Alex.”  I found a couple nice bloggers who helped me out and I started following other bloggers. In the beginning, I followed a lot of science fiction bloggers, but for some reason wasn’t connecting. After six months, I had a little over thirty followers. (Sounds depressing, doesn’t it?)

Finding Arlee Bird and joining the first A to Z Challenge changed everything. I finished April with over eighty followers and finally found my groove. I realized the easiest thing for me to talk about was my passions, so rather than focus on the fact I was a writer soon to be an author, I started blogging about movies, music, tech stuff, and other geeky pursuits. I held my first blogfest, the Movie Dirty Dozen, and it all snowballed from that point.

 Where did the “Ninja Captain” come from?
That title came from my followers almost two years ago. I guess because I write science fiction, someone dubbed me the Captain. (Old Kitty, perhaps?) The Ninja came from my ability to get in and comment fast. (At least, that’s what I remember!) I’ve been given many other titles since then, but those two stuck. And now I really am the Ninja Captain of an army of followers. Just blows me away!

Thank you again, Alex! It has been a real pleasure sharing a post with you. Below are links to Alex's blog and Twitter, and information on CassaStar and the second installment, CassaFire. Be sure to check them both out. Thank you for reading. Thank you to Alex. I'll do my best to stop by your blogs this weekend, and I'll be right back here first thing on Monday. Have a wonderful holiday weekend, everyone!

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh
6x9 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

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh
6x9 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
Book Trailer -


  1. Wonderful interview Michael, Yes start at the top that's what I say,


  2. Cap'n Ninja Alex!!!! I blame Charlie for calling Alex J, Captain but my memory is so old and frazzled I can't remember much as to where or how Cap'n Ninja was Captain first! LOL!

    Am I making sense? Probably not! But am so so so super duper excited for the Capn Ninja and his amazing trilogy! You can so totally see the very best of Buck Rogers, Star Wars and a bit of Star Trek - well I did - with CassaStar!

    Thanks for the fab review and interview Michael! Take care

  3. Thanks so much for the interview and review, Michael. I'm glad you enjoyed my book and the characters.

    Kitty, I know you were involved in that name somewhere!

  4. Great interview, Alex and Michael. Congrats on the review, Alex!

  5. Oh I love your blog design. Great interview. I still haven't found the time to read these books, I'm missing out aren't I? :)

  6. Yvonne, it's the only way! :)

    Kitty, thanks so much for the comment and shedding a little more light on the Cap'n Ninja mystery.

    Alex, Thanks again for sharing!

    Cate, thank you!

    Anna, yup, but it's never too late. :)

  7. Great interview, Michael! Alex is such an inspiration with his blog, I enjoyed learning more about how it all started for him. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Great review and interview Michael! Alex is an inspiration to us all with his ninja fast encouragment!

    I really think you nailed your review of CassaStar when you stated that Alex doesn't bog down his novel with the usual descriptive details found in Scifi and fantasy. He sticks to the heart of the story, and I appreciate that.

  9. Anna, if you do find time, I'd be honored.

    Julie, I'd like to think my blogging start would give others hope!

  10. Great interview, Michael! Thanks for sharing. :))

    It's amazing that you only began blogging in 2009, Alex. I would've thought you'd been blogging since birth!! You do a fabulous job (if I may call it a job!) at helping everyone stay motivated and psyched. :)

  11. Loved learning more about you, Alex.

  12. Fantastic interview, Michael! I love reading about Alex & can never get enough. He's so incredibly generous & I owe him for sharing his wisdom & experience.

  13. Candilynn, computers were barely around when I was born!

    Nancy, thank you so much! Appreciate that. You rock!

    Michael, hope you enjoy it!

  14. it's always great to learn something new about Alex. Great interview.

  15. I LOVED CassaStar. Can't wait to read CassaFire.

    Also, I never realized that Alex's blog was only two years old. :-D

  16. Thanks for this background info into our beloved Capitan. These were great questions!

  17. I like Alex's new title, blog father. :)

    It's such a pleasure to meet you, Michael. Thanks for the kind words at Alex's blog today. I'm following your blog now.

  18. It's great to learn more about Alex through all the interviews he does. There's always some interesting new fact.

    Loved reading this interview! And thanks for the review.

  19. Misha, thanks! And yeah, I haven't been around that long.

    Ciara, I wonder if that name will stick?

    Thanks, everyone! I am here for your amusement.

  20. Julie, thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed a further look into the life of the Ninja captain. :)

    Tyrean, thanks for the kind words on my review. I appreciate stories that move quickly and won't let you stop turning the pages.

    Candilynn, thanks so much! :)

    Carol, thanks for the visit. :)

    Nancy, thanks, he's a great role model.

    Michael, I'm looking forward to reading that one!

    Jessica, thanks for following! I'll repay the favor. :)

    Misha, I know, it's crazy! Thanks for the comment.

    Nicki, thanks so much for the comment and the add! I'll come visit your blog soon. :)

    Ciara, nice to meet you, too, and thanks for following! I'll repay the favor. :)

    Eagle, thanks for the comment and the add! I'll pay back the favor.

  21. Great interview, guys! I love getting to know my fellow bloggers through things like this. :)

  22. What a great interview Michael and Alex. 'Blog Father'??? I like Captain Ninja better.

  23. Really good interview! Well done.

  24. I thoroughly enjoyed CassaStar. I think Alex created an astounding, unforgettable character in Byron and Bassa just plain rocked. I loved the chemistry between the two and felt like I was right there with them the entire time.

    Excellent interview!

  25. Excellent review and interview!! I have been wanting to know more about CassaStar, and it was great learning how Alex got started :)


  26. Carrie, thanks for stopping by for a visit, and thanks for following! :)

    CM, thanks! I'm torn between the two.

    Heather, thank you. :)

    Melissa, thanks. Yeah, Alex did such a wonderful job with his character development.

    Andrea, thanks! Alex should now write a memoir of his blogging adventure.

  27. Thanks, CM - think I'll stick with that title.

    Thank you so much, Melissa.

    Thanks Michael and everyone!

  28. It was interesting reading about the beginning of Alex's blog.

    I have both of his books. I need to put them higher up my TBR pile.

  29. Hi, Michael & Alex,

    Micheal, the best recommendation you could have given was to say that the book does not kill the reader with world-building and that it will appeal to readers outside the Sci-Fi diehards. That's say something pretty cool about Alex as a writer.

  30. Medeia, thank you!

    JL, thank you very much! Ironically I think more non-science fiction fans have read my first book than fans, something that really surprised me.

  31. Medeia, thanks, and at least you have them. :)

    JL, thankn, and yeah, Alex's writing has wide commercial appeal.

    Alex, thanks for all the comments and follow-up. Hope you're enjoying your holiday weekend!

  32. Great interview. This sounds like a book I would enjoy for both the SF and the character elements. My backlog is starting to look like a mountain of logs.

  33. I really must get round to these. I like SF where the story and characters are in the forefront. Interesting to read about Alex's humble beginnings too! Great interview and review.

  34. Sher, I'm amazed how many non-science fiction readers have enjoyed it.

    Nick, I'd be honored if you read my books!

  35. Cool to find out where Ninja Captain comes from. Nice interview, Alex.

    Great meeting you, Michael.

  36. Sher, I know what you mean, it's hard to keep up.

    Nick, thank you for the comment!

    M Pax, thank you! Glad you stopped by. :)


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