Fantasy, New Adult, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

My Review: Zodiac Academy: The Awakening (Supernatural Beasts And Bullies #1): by Caroline Peckham And Susanne Valenti

*Kindle Edition*
Publish Date: July 13th, 2019
Number of Pages: 498 Pages
Publisher: N/A
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult Romance

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series so far – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

Tears never did anyone any favours, but sometimes they just needed to fall.

– Caroline Peckham & Susan Valenti, “Zodiac Academy: The Awakening”

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

You have been selected to attend Zodiac Academy, where your star sign defines your destiny.

If you’re one of the Fae, elemental magic is in your blood. And apparently it’s in ours. As twins born in the month of Gemini, we’re a rare breed even in this academy of supernatural a-holes.

Changelings were outlawed hundreds of years ago but I guess our birth parents didn’t get the memo. Which means we’re totally unprepared for the ruthless world of Fae.

Air. Fire. Water. Earth.

No one has ever harnessed all four of them, until we arrived. And it hasn’t made us any friends so far.

As the rarest Elementals ever known, we’re already a threat to the four celestial heirs; the popular, vindictive bullies who happen to be some of the hottest guys we’ve ever seen. It doesn’t help that they’re the most dangerous beasts in the Academy. And probably on earth too.

Our fates are intertwined, but they want us gone. They’ve only got until the lunar eclipse to force us out and they’ll stop at nothing to succeed.

We never knew we had a birthright to live up to but now that we do, we intend to claim our throne.

We can’t expect any help from the faculty when it comes to defending ourselves. So if the dragon shifters want some target practice, the werewolves want someone to hunt or the vampires fancy a snack then we have to be ready. But we’ve been looking after each other for a long time and fighting back is in our blood.

Today’s horoscope: totally screwed.

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This is a full-length medium burn novel that is the first in a university-age academy series. Expect forbidden love and bully romance with mature content suitable for upper YA readers and onwards. 

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Okay, but wow….this series is one of those times where I tell myself: “Why didn’t I start these sooner?!” I mean, before I knew it, I’ve blasted through the first three books of this series because it is seriously ADDICTING! These books have been tossed around as highly recommended within the facebook groups I’m a part of for Sarah J. Maas and the From Blood and Ash series by Jennifer Armentrout, and I can say that oh yeah… they’re an utter delight!

I will say maybe it’s not the best writing in terms of craft, but man oh man, that doesn’t matter because the story has just drawn me in, and I’m forcing myself to back up away from them for a second to organize my thoughts and be sure to get it all down on here and in the form of reviews so I can still keep what all happens in each books organized too.

If I had to compare this to other popular fandoms, I’d say this series is reminding me of Harry Potter + Avatar the Last Airbender + Vampire Diaries + Zodiac Signs & Astrology + The Covenant. That I hardly expect a whole lot of people to know, is a movie from 2006 starring Steven Strait and is about a group of four warlocks who’re the last living descendents of the lines of witches from the times of Salem Witch Trials. It’s not the greatest movie, but is decent enough, and let me tell ya….there is plenty of male eye candy in Steven Strait, Taylor Kitsch, Chace Crawford, and even a baby Sebastian Stan! Give it a whirl and see what you think!

This story revolves around twin sisters, Tory and Darcy Vega. Tori is the brash, outspoken chick with a sharp tongue behind her bright red-lipsticked mouth. Darcy is the quieter and more demure of the two, but they’re orphans who share a crummy studio apartment just trying to get by. They’re thieves and have to do whatever it takes to survive, but one night a beautiful stranger pays them a visit and reveals to them that not only are they actually Fae, but they are also the long lost heirs of the former King and Queen of their world! Not wanting to rule when they had no idea this land even existed a day prior, the twins only agree to go with the guy because he says they can claim their birthright and inheritance so long as they graduate from the school and master their magical abilities. Greed wins out, and they’re off!

When they arrive to the school, they’re instantly met with a very torn reaction from their classmates and faculty. They quickly learn how harsh and ruthless the Fae can be, and learn that while they’d been away and their parents no longer alive and/or sitting on the throne, four royal families have stepped up and taken over, and their four heirs are there to also eventually rule. Things of course don’t go well as the four heirs instantly detest the twins at popping in so unexpectedly and taking away what they’ve been told is their birthright to rule one day, and so they all clash and see who’ll be left standing at the end of it all. Tensions rise, pranks go too far, and heinous words and actions are performed all in order to break down their enemies and do whatever it takes to come out victorious.

What really makes things interesting though is the sexual attraction that also builds like a strong current as things escalate! Both sisters deal with their own forbidden romances to really spice things up and pique your interest, but that’s not all! There’s also the threat of bigger and darker things to come as you learn about an enemy race of beings named Nymphs that come from a shadow realm adjacent to their world, and that they are getting stronger and attacks are happening more and more consistently.

Certainly a lot is going on in this series….

I will say the main draw for me is definitely the characters and their dynamics: the sisters, the four heirs, and even the relationships and their undertones the sisters have with the heirs as a group and even individually. Like the blurb says, there’s some forbidden lust that really tugs you along, and it’s even better when it’s paired with animosity and even hatred alongside it. It’s fun!

I suppose I should also give a little introduction to the four heirs too:

Darius Acrux: Dark shorter hair and dark eyes, totally sexy asshole vibes, intense gaze, fire abilities, and the unspoken leader of the four heirs

Seth Capella: Long hair, easily the most extraverted of the four, air abilities, smiles and likes to have physical contact with a lot of people always

Caleb Altair: Wavy blonde hair, cocky, dark blue eyes like an ocean during a storm, abs, dimpled smirk, great kisser, earth abilities, biggest flirt of the four

Max Rigel: Dark Skinned, big muscles, short mohawk, the most charming of the four, water abilities, and has a loud booming voice that commands attention

I have a fancast posted of them too, I definitely say go check it (and them) out!

All four are the biggest and hottest guys on the campus, and things get all nice and twisted as Darcy and Tori deal with everything the guys throw at them, and while I was disappointed there wasn’t as much romance as I’d hoped, at least for this first book, there’s definitely the promise of more to come! I can say that while you know there is more to come, the interactions of bullying mixed with forbidden and sexual tension makes you ask yourself: Okay, but HOW are we going to get to that point?! Yes, unfortunately this first book is pretty tame in terms of smut, BUT again….good things come to those who wait, or stick it out until the later books!

I also want to point out the hot teacher in the book, Orion. Definitely keep your eyes on him, he’s a very interesting character in all this too!

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Why are the hot ones always jerks?

– Caroline Peckham & Susan Valenti, “Zodiac Academy: The Awakening”

What I Liked:

  1. All The Morally Grey Characters! Honestly, part of why I’m really drawn to the characters is that no one is completely likeable. There’s maybe an exception of Sofia, a girl whom the twins befriend at the school, but the fact that a lot of these characters have their a**hole moments makes it all the more fun. The Fae are harsh, backstabbing creatures who crave power and influence, and while the four heirs are enemies to Darcy and Tori, I can say they have moments where they’re somewhat likeable too, but don’t stick to that feeling for too long. WIth the guys, you’ll find yourself going back and forth A LOT on whether you like them or not, and some are already more likeable than others….
  2. The Banter! Tori by far has the best lines in the book, I love her sass and brash demeanor to say things that I wish I had the courage to say out loud to someone who’s being rude to me or is straight up pissing me off. The Banter is also not even about the sexual undertones, but I especially love it between Darius and Tory: so much fire!
  3. All The Mythical Creatures! The magic system is pretty basic where the Fae can have special abilities to the four elements: water, air, earth, and fire. Some stronger fae can have abilities to two of them, but no one really goes further than that except for—of course—the twins. It’s not a huge spoiler to be honest, but of course they somehow have abilities with all four. BUT, what I’m also getting at is that there is a hierarchy of mythical creatures that the Fae can transform into like a smashing Hulk. Dragons and Vampires are of course the highest, but then there’s also Gryphons, Sphinx’s, Medusa’s (it really should just be Gorgons), Sirens, Werewolves, Unicorns, and pretty much ALL the major mythical creatures you can think of make appearances, and one mystery is what will the twins be when they’re other form finally manifests itself!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Lack of Romance…Like I said, there’s not a whole lot of romance and smut, so if you’re looking for that here, I can say it’ll happen, but it needs time to develop and build. It’s a bully/forbidden romance, so for the sake of the quality of the story, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense or be nearly as effective. It’s a 6 book (Soon to be 7) series, and you gotta let the anticipation build and so it’s that much more satisfying when it does finally happen! Who doesn’t like a good slow burn?
  2. There Are A Lot of Characters to Learn…So besides the twins and the heirs, there are a lot of side characters introduced and it’s a little jarring to try and memorize all of them. I’m the type of reader who likes to put a face to the name ASAP, and there’s just a whole lot of characters who I don’t know how important they are or what they even look like and my mind goes into overdrive over it!
  3. How Cryptic All The Males Are…Okay to be clear, I love it and hate it at the same time! The males in this book are all so vague in their answers and are all keeping secrets to different degrees and it’s exciting and frustrating all at once! WHo’s the bad guy? Who’s trustworthy? Who’s secretly an allie? Who’s a potential love interest? What are their intentions? I had a similar situation in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and it really drives the story forward and keeps you reading, but you want to smack these supernatural males upside the head and tell them to give it to you straight already!

Conclusion:

The start of a new series, and I can honestly say I am HOOKED! There’s so much promise of more to come, the anticipation of how we’re going to get to those points and what else could possibly happen is the main driving force of how you’ll maybe fly through this series like I currently am!

I’m actually torn on keeping on task and writing out my next review, but lately all I want to do in my free time is keep reading because I have to find out what happens next!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fancasts/Dreamcasts

My Fancast/Dreamcast: The Supernatural Beasts and Bullies (a.k.a The Zodiac Academy) Series by Caroline Peckman and Susanne Valenti

Image courtesy of Instagram account: @kaythebooklover

Hello Readers!

Welcome back, and can I say it’s always such a great feeling when you discover your next literary obsession while waiting for your other book obsessions to release the next book, and this series has been one on my radar for quite some time now. It’s been recommended over the last couple months in a couple Facebook groups I’m in, and even my Bookstagram friend (@Kaythebooklover, the photo above!) has started these and loves them too, so that was the final straw and I had to join the bandwagon myself!

The story revolves around twins Tori and Darcy Vega, orphans and struggling to make rent for their single bedroom apartment, but a mysterious man chases them and informs them that they’re the lost heirs to the Fae throne of his homeland and must come with them to learn how to use their magical abilities to (possibly) earn their place on the throne and prove any naysayers wrong.

Of course, things don’t go easy and they both have to face the four current heirs and their obvious disdain for having the twins swoop in and take what they believe is rightfully theirs, which leads to the main draw of this story: a bully romance.

Tension rises with all the drama and cryptic threats and sexual attraction that goes hand in hand with the hatred these characters develop as pranks take them to their limit and their will is tested, BUT there’s not even just that! There’s some dark shadow swooping over the campus, and the enemy of the Fae is back and causing a potential war down the road, and they’re getting bigger and stronger faster than we all hope to see!

I’ve only just started this book series, but it really drew me in with the dynamics of the characters and their interactions and banter and sexual tension. The first book is pretty tame, but as I read on, I can tell things are going to get spicy!

To see my review of book #1 – Zodiac Academy: The Awakening – Click HERE

Here’s my official Fancast of the Zodiac Academy series:

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Tori & Darcy Vega: Sara Sampaio

Sara is a Victoria’s Secret model who I thought matched the physical description of the twins in these books. I’m honestly not sure what her acting chops actually look like, but I can certainly say she looks the part. It’s fun to imagine her tearing those boys to shreds with the epic lines that Tory gets throughout!

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Caleb Altair: Michael Dean Johnson

Caleb is one of the characters I’m really drawn to, he’s showing more depth than most of the characters, and I’m very curious to see what he does later on! Michael Dean is a model and fitness influencer on Instagram and I think he was even on an MTV dating show at some point, which is no surprise, I mean….look at him!

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Seth Capella: Elias Black

Seth is a very back and forth character for me….he’s outwardly the most friendly of the four heirs, but he’s also the biggest d-bag of them, at least in my opinion! He’s especially cruel to Darcy and has a weird way of showing his affection to others…but read it for yourself to see what you think. Elias is a model on Instagram and was also a contestant on a season of popular dating show, Love Island.

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Darius Acrux: Alex Badia

Darius is probably my favorite of the four heirs, he’s such an asshole, but man is he hot! He’s got a temper, and he’s Mr. cool guy, big man on campus and I am such a sucker for it all, ugh……….Alex is yet again another model on Instagram, and just who I thought of when I got the physical description of this fire starter.

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Max Rigel: Brandon Bell

Max is the one of the four I’ve seen the least of, but he’s part of the Sirens order, who all leech off people’s emotions and manipulate them to feeling those strong emotions in order to exploit it and use it for their own power, it all sounds like those toxic people in your life that you just need to cut off already….Brandon is quite a handsome actor whom I first discovered as Troy Fairbanks on the social satire Netflix show, Dear White People.

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Professor Lance Orion: Luke Bracey

I’m not sure how I feel about Orion yet…it’s obvious he’s got a soft spot for Darcy, but he’s such a jerk to literally everyone else, it’s hard to like him a lot of the time, and he gets away with a lot of abuse despite being a teacher…Luke Bracey was in the Nicholas Sparks movie, The Best of Me, and more recently the Holidays Rom Com, Holidate.

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Kylie Major: Saxon Sharbino

Image courtesy of the actress’s IMDB profile

Saxon’s looks just scream gorgeous blonde mean girl, which pretty much sums up the character anyways, so it’s kind of perfect then! She was in an episode of Lucifer, one of the favorite shows, but she also was in the more recent release of Poltergeist too!

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Sofia Cygnus: Dre Davis

Image courtesy of hollywoodreporter.com

Sofia is kind of the Hermione Granger of this series; she’s a total brainiac except Sofia totally undervalues herself and prefers to be a wallflower type, at least for now! Dre was in one of the later seasons of Pretty Little Liars, and someone who I think looks the part to play the BFF of the twins!

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Diego Polaris: Christian Lee Navarro

Image courtesy of weheartit.com

Diego is a kind soul who’s like the one male friend in the friend group of most sitcoms. He doesn’t do much for me for now, but hopefully he does more as the series goes on! Christian is probably best known for being a part of the Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why.

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Geraldine Grus: Meg Stalter

Image courtesy of forbes.com

I don’t know how well this matching actually fits, I get the impression sometimes that Geraldine is actually really tall and buff, but I follow Meg Stalter on Instagram and she’s hilarious–I recommend following her too–and I feel like she’d nail the strange exclamations that this character says whenever she’s super happy, excited, or shocked (which is most of the time anyway).

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That’s all for now! As I read on in the series, I plan to add more characters and my fancasts for them as I meet them in the books and get a sense of who they could be. Be sure to come back to this page as time moves forward and I finish more of the books!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell