book reviews

2 GREAT Sci Fi Novels

To be honest, I don’t read much sci fi. I loved it as a Trekkie during TOS (The Original Star Trek) and Star Trek Voyager but got away from it.

Then, Elon Musk arrived with his SpaceX rockets, taking American astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time in a bazillion years, his definitive plans for a trip to Mars, his reusable rockets (up to six times now–or more, depending upon when you read this), the Starlink internet-beaming satellites that are already in beta (in Los Angeles), and everything else that explodes from that fertile mind. I’ve become a Fanboy of Elon Musk, follow him on Twitter (where he posts very cool science experiments) and watch his launches with my satellite-loving Army son–me in California and he in Okinawa.

As a result, I’ve started reading sci fi again. Here are two noteworthy novels I’ve recently finished. They’re both 5/5 though Alex Cavanaugh’s pushed a little above 5–it was that good.


by Alex Cavanaugh


CassaStar (Dancing Lemur Press 2013), 1st in the Cassa series, is the enrapturing story of Byron, a young boy with a storied past. When he lost his parents at a young age, he seemed to be headed down a bad path until he discovered he wanted to become a Cosbolt pilot, fly one of the most powerful military warships of his time. He earns acceptance into the elite school to prepare for this goal and does well though not without challenging the norms. Part of the reason he succeeds is a specific set of skills he has that few do. That becomes the seedbed for changes in his life he never could have expected.

As much as this is a story of battling for the heart and soul of space, it is also the struggles of a young man to overcome the problems of his childhood and grow into the person he always wanted to be. To his dismay, he finds he can’t do that alone, but can he trust anyone to help him after what he’s been through?

Excellent story, great start to a series, and highly recommended not only for sci fi fans but those who love a well-crafted tale.

The Stones

by D.L. Cross


In The Stones: An Invasion Universe Novel, Book Two of The Astral Conspiracy (Sterling and Stone 2020)–I reviewed the first, The Gate, here–Earth has been invaded through the portal that no one knew worked. Nothing they try seems to stop the invaders so they’re going to have to get more creative.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

He’s running from Astrals. Running with Black Ops. And running toward the end of the world.

Landon Thorne belongs to an elite group: he’s one of the few people who have ever accessed the Akashic Record. He discovers a weapon that could defend the Earth.

The Astrals want to stop him. The government wants to control him. Even his allies are hiding something.

Through it all, he has one purpose. One compulsion. He’s drawn to the Georgia Guidestones.

His journey is fraught with danger – bandits, cannibals, and ancient booby traps — but when Landon finally reaches the Stones, even he is surprised by what he finds. If he can decipher the code, he can save the world.

If he can’t? His discovery may destroy him – along with the rest of the human race.

Cross creates a completely believable world of trauma, fear, and unbelievable problems as mankind must contend with an invasion from an unknown species. Do scientists take the lead or military? And is this related to the alien that has been in captivity for almost one hundred years? It has certainly reacted to the arrival of the spaceships but whether it’s looking for escape or protection, no one can tell because it refuses to (or can’t) communicate with the humans.

Cross writes with a deft pen and a clever mind, putting us in the middle of the struggle many fear–an invasion from space. This book and its predecessor in the series are fast-moving, exciting, and easily kept me engaged. Kudos to Cross. Book 3, The Nine, is already available.

More sci fi

Demographics of a Trekkie

How do you World-Build?

32 Tips for Science Fiction Writers

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature Fall 2021. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

108 thoughts on “2 GREAT Sci Fi Novels

  1. Pingback: What’s Trending on WordDreams | WordDreams...

  2. Thanks for the great reviews, Jacqui. I’ve never read sci-fi before (I barely have time to read anything, unfortunately) and it wouldn’t be my thing, but I’ve always been curious about Alex’s books. I will read CassaStar at some point.

    Elon Musk is amazing! Such a genius and he’s always working on something incredible, with heaps more ideas to come. If only we bought Tesla stock way back when! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good sci fi gives you a peak at the future. That’s what I like about it anyway.

      That’s funny about the Tesla stock. My son bought it about a year ago. We laughed at him when even Elon Musk said his stock was overpriced. Now, he’s laughing at us!

      Liked by 2 people

    • It sounds like you have quite a winner on your hands, Alex. And congratulations on being the best-selling author at Dancing Lemur Press! That fact and Jacqui’s review tell me you don’t need my best wishes, but I offer them anyway. Your book sounds amazing.


  3. Hi Jacqui – I’m not into SciFi films or books – but I did enjoy Alex’s Cassa Star – it was fun.

    I’m going to suggest a film – Splice (Science Fiction Horror film) (per Wiki) … but it so intrigued me when I heard it being discussed on a serious literary programme – it hit my brain cells … thought you might be interested – I think it was to do with the story line – but I look at films differently now – since I’ve been blogging … so at some stage I’ll grab a copy – not my sort of film!

    Take care – Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I loved Star Trek and Voyager too. I didnt watch the other spin offs though. Great reviews. I’m throughly enjoying Staci’s series and can’t wait to dive into book 4 and 5!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Happy Friday, Jacqui! Alex’s “CassaStar” and the other books in his series are wonderful! The space battles he wrote had me right there in the middle of the action. My world ceased. But more than that, the best part of his story was Byron’s struggle and growth. I come from a family that served in the military, and I could tell that Alex knew that life. Congrats to D.L. Cross ~ “The Stones” looks really good. Right now I’m slowly reading “Putting the Science in Fiction” which is edited by Dan Koboldt, one of the judges for this year’s IWSG anthology contest. It’s really informative. I’m reading one essay at a time, as I alternate with your books. I so love Xhosa’s story! Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great reviews, Jacqui! Both of these books sound interesting, even though sci-fi isn’t my go-to genre. I do read it from time to time, and I read the first book in the Astral Conspiracy series. It was great! I plan to binge read the entire series, and am glad to know you enjoyed Book 2. (Yay, Staci!)

    I’ll also be checking out CassaStar because now and then I need a break from giant epic fantasy tomes. 😀 Thanks for sharing these! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Good reviews. When younger, I read a fair amount of Sci-Fi, but not much in the past couple of decades. The one author I have read a lot of his sci-fi is L. E. Modesitt, who mostly writes fantasy, but he’s a personal friends (was a member of my church when I lived in Utah). He even dedicated his latest book to three clergy-types, including me!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I like to watch sci-fi more than read it. Too often the names are unpronounceable that causes me to lose interest. But sci-fi as a whole is great for sparking curiosity in what can develop in our future. Remember on Star Trek, every crew member not only had mobile communication devices, but individual PC’s in their cabin. Back then it seemed impossible.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I’m like you Jacqui, I’ve never been much of a sci-fi fan except for the original Star Trek and a few movies from way back. (I’ve always been interested in the space program.)

    But I’ve devoured DL’s series. Getting ready to read the 4th book now. She puts depth into the characters, something I find lacking in many sci-fi stories, and I think that makes a huge difference. Not to mention the plot is intriguing and the books are page-turners.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I’ve Book 1 in Staci’s Astral series and am looking forward to binge-reading all of them when they’re all on sale.
    I haven’t read any of Alex Cavanaugh’s books, but after your review, I’ll have to give those a look.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jacqui 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

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