Book Media Reviews & Other Fantastical Fun

Hey gang! I trust your weekends were better than Ryan Seacrest's. (Oscar joke! Don't worry, there aren't any more ... ) Also hope you're well-rested, cause we're going to be running like a squirrel in a cage (that's Texas speak for busy) here on the Open Vein this week.

To kick us off I've decided to revisit an old blog feature that was a lot of fun. Second, we're going to celebrate the book launch of a very special blog-friend. Finally, we'll end the week by tackling some hard questions when I scrutinize authors using social media as an advertising platform. (Yes, I see the irony, and that's the point.)

Hope you'll join me for any and all of it!

Today is the beginning of one of my (and I'm certain many of yours)  favorite author bloggers, Alex J. Cavanaugh, launch week for his newest work CassaFire. Alex is an ultra-dedicated and entertaining blogger, so it's not surprising his books garner similar praise. CassaFire promises sci-fi action and adventure of the highest order and I'm certain it won't let us down.

I'll give you the full skinny tomorrow, but I wanted to bring it to your attention today as it is the launch of the official CATCH FIRE! blog tour. Alex is giving away some really sweet goodies on his blog (including copies of the book, the first book in the series--CassaStar--totebag, mug and more) and I didn't want you to miss an opportunity. AS IF THAT WEREN'T ENOUGH, Alex runs one of THE best blogs out there, so you'll be a winner of outstanding company if nothing else.

Entering is simple: just hop over to his blog and leave a comment for a chance to win. (click CATCH FIRE! above to go to his site and sign up) Again, more CassaFire goodness to come tomorrow...


Way back when I reviewed book trailers on this blog. I called it Trailer Talk, and I had a lot of fun doing it. Not sure why I quit ... 

Anyway, I'm going to start doing them again, but with a few changes. The biggest being that I'm actually going to open it up to all kinds of book-related media. Why? Because times are a changing and, thanks to the myriad of tech-type-devices you can use to read on, people are interacting with books in all kinds of fun ways.

Video, music, maps and pretty much anything under the sun can be used as promotional tools or accessories to the reading experience. So, as authors and readers, I think it's worth examining them all.

Consider this an open call: if you have a trailer, etc. you'd like me to review, shoot me the link. PROVISOS: I don't guarantee a review; I don't take money, cookies, etc. for reviews; I will review it as I see it, so I can't promise I'll say something nice--though I usually do.

On that note, these reviews are intended to reflect the effectiveness of the media as promotional tools or accessories to the books/stories they represent. THEY ARE NOT MY REVIEWS OF THE WORTH OR QUALITY OF THE STORIES THEMSELVES. So if I happen to review the trailer for your book and don't love it, please don't consider it to be a slam of your book or you personally. I'm very aware that some authors make their own media/trailers, and some have absolutely nothing to do with it.

To get us started, I've (of course) selected the trailer for CassaFire

CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh
Category: Book Trailer

What the book is about (via Amazon product description): 

"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…"

What I Liked: 

The music! Very punchy and futeristic. Really sets the tone for the entire trailer. The computer animations are awesome-to-stunning, particularly the panning camera that focuses on Byron near the beginning and the finale that takes us from spaceship to book cover. Also really loved how the narration didn't run the entire time. Too many trailers try to tell us everything when the medium is built around the visual. Good authors are masters at showing and not telling, yet it doesn't always get applied to the media. 

What I didn't: 

I like the concept of the flaming CassaFire logo in the beginning, but I wanted it to have more of an impact. The flames were small, and the logo faded probably a little too quickly for my taste. Just a touch more punch would do ... Maybe a big sound effect or drum thump when the title hits and then have it scorch off the screen or something? I've always felt that the one thing a trailer should accomplish is burning the name of the book into the viewer's mind.  

Similarly, I loved the transition scene from narration to action, especially the pause and, "all I wanted was my privacy". Very powerful. However, I didn't feel the words matched the intensity of what we were seeing/hearing on the video. Instead of "all I wanted was my privacy" I expected something like, "all I wanted was to escape my past" or "all I wanted was to find the man who'd haunted me" or something equally cryptic. A minor thing, but it pulled me out of the trailer for a moment to think, "dude, take a nap if you want some alone time; you've got a frigging universe to explore and an alien babe to talk to!" 

Did it worK?

Absolutely. A lot of the digitally animated trailers I've seen are bland and lifeless. Not this one. The environments were lush and beautiful, and the dogfighting ships were exciting. The CassaFire trailer is more akin to watching cutscenes from an excellent video game. I even liked the character models, which is usually the killer. (i.e. making human characters not come off as creepy, puppet-corpse-people with slightly moving lips) I think this is a reference quality trailer for sure. Meaning, if you're looking to make one of your own, watch it and learn. Great job!

What say you? Did you enjoy the trailer? Do you even like book trailers at all? (Some people hate them. That's cool too.)



  1. EJ, wow!!!! Thank you so very much. I had nothing to do with the trailer, but I'll be sure to send the link to my publisher. The first trailer for CassaStar was amazing and then they did this one and it totally blew me away.
    Thank you for the kind words about me, my books, and my trailer. You rock!!!!

  2. I'll be catching fire with the rest of the blogging world!

  3. Hooray for Alex! Nice job EJ.

  4. EJ, be sure to stop by today - I have a surprise for YOU!

  5. I like book trailers that make you want to read the book and this one makes me very curious.

  6. i love trailer talk! my fave feature. so glad you're bringing it back. :D
    - other EJ

  7. I've been seeing Alex's name around several blogs!

    Good trailer!


“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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