Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

My Review: Zodiac Academy – The Reckoning (Supernatural Beasts and Bullies #3): by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti

**Kindle Edition**
Publish Date: October 4th, 2019
Number of Pages: 612 Pages
Publisher: Kindle
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal

***Warning! This review contains spoilers from this book and previous books in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

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

To see my review of book #2 – Zodiac Academy: Ruthless Fae – Click HERE

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

Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars

She wasn’t just a girl though. Not to me. She was the one girl I shouldn’t want, the one I couldn’t have, the one I didn’t need. And yet I did. And everything in my life could be damaged so badly by that need that I#d fought it tooth and claw up until this point.

– Caroline Peckham & Susanne Valenti, “Zodiac Academy: The Reckoning”

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

The answer to your question will be revealed on the Lunar Eclipse.But when finding the truth, don’t let the shadows take you.

The week of The Reckoning has begun. And senior students have been tasked with making the freshmen’s lives pure hell as they prepare to take their fateful assessment.

With the Lunar Eclipse on the horizon, Tory and Darcy have more to worry about than just passing their exams. A dark plot is unfolding and the shadows are drawing closer…

~~~

Okay, by this point when I was reading these books, my entire life outside of work and sleeping and bathing revolved around having my eyes glued to the screen of my kindle reading these books. The romance is really starting to heat up and there’s more danger and excitement and I was just so completely sucked in….

Once again I will say it’s not the heaviest material or really even the greatest written story, although I feel like now that I’m more familiar with all the characters it does feel like the writing has gotten better, but what really keeps me going are all the characters and their relationships amongst each other and the absolutely delicious way the co-authors have weaved them all together: the twins, the heirs, the twins with the heirs, Tory and Darius, Tory and Caleb, Darius and Xavier, Darius and Xavier, Seth and Darcy, Darcy and Orion, Darius and Orion. I’m telling you, the characters and these intertwining relationships are what will absorb all your attention and make you obsessed. At least that’s how it’s been for me!

You start this book immediately after the crazy events of how book #2 ended with that battle in the Pitball stadium with the Nymph’s. Tragedy and violence strikes, but everyone is expected to just quickly move past it and all the trauma associated because they are Fae and they can’t show weakness. It’s easier for some rather than others, but everyone also gets caught up in the major event called The Reckoning. It’s like a big exam/competition to weed out students who aren’t strong enough to stay at Zodiac Academy, and there’s a dangerous task for each element that the students must pass at depending what they are (of course, that means the twins have to do four tasks since they have all four elemental abilities). AND they have to deal with the horrendous week leading up these tasks from the upperclassmen bullying all the freshmen (it’s literally called “Hell Week”).

Like I said, the relationships are really the big highlight of these books for me by this point, and of course I go into more detail further down in my review!

What I Liked:

  1. The Sexual Tension Between Darius and Tory! These two have got to have the slowest burn of a romance that I’ve ever freakin’ read because were three books in and these two haven’t even had a first kiss yet, but oh man, has it gotten scorching between these two! There’s still plenty of banter—both playful and sexy—but there are softer moments between these two that truly prove that they are endgame in this series. Their feelings are so mixed and complex with their obvious mutual attraction but sprinkled with hatred because they’re enemies, and of course the web gets even more intricate with how Caleb and Tory are still FWB’s on the side too…which I’m starting to get over. I like Caleb a lot, but he’s just a big hill to climb over at this point, and I need more romance with Darius and Tory. I loved the race scene, the scene where Tory goes back with Darius to see Xavier, and them on the beach before everything goes to hell!
  2. You Find Out The Twins’ Orders! Obviously I won’t spoil it, but it’s nice to have at least one mystery solved with all the questions that raised about the past and everything surrounding the twins.
  3. Darcy and Orion’s Romance! While Darius and Tory are edging each other on, Orion and Darcy’s romance is in full swing and I love it. I really am a sucker for the assholes who secretly get soft for the one they have feelings for, and I get that in Orion, because he is still such an asshole in public, but flips it off when it’s just him and Darcy. And that smut that I’ve been told I need to wait for?…Let’s just say things are finally getting pretty spicy!
  4. The Bromance Between Darius and Orion! Another interesting relationship that really has nothing to do with Romance, but more platonic male friendship! You honestly don’t see it a whole lot in books nowadays, at least with what I’ve read, and I like their bond a lot. It’s a strange guardian bond that Darius’s father cursed them with, but I love how they make the best of it and even tease each other about when the bond has them embrace or spoon in bed together….yes, these are two straight fae men, one vampire and another dragon-shifter, but they at least can make the best of a bad situation!

~~~

‘Hungover, Miss Vega?’ he growled and she sighed, realising her mistake.

‘Yes, sir. If you fancy sending any of your healing magic this way, that would be swell.

Orion gave her one of his darkest smiles that said he definitely wasn’t her friend right then. ‘Oh I won’t be doing that. If you turn up to my class hungover you can deal with the consequences.’ He shot to her side at a fierce speed and bellowed, ‘CAN’T YOU?!’ in her ear. It even made me flinch, but Tory winced with pure pain.

– Caroline Peckham & Susanne Valenti, “Zodiac Academy: The Reckoning”

~~~

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Orion’s Jealous Moment…While I do love their romance and what they’ve gone through, there’s the one scene with Orion at the circus that really had me shaking my head like “WTF?!” I can’t explain it for spoilers really, but it seemed really over dramatic and maybe a little manipulative, but then again, it is the fae with these books, and it does match some of the extremities that these characters face at this magical school, much like how the teachers and faculty turn the other way with all the bullying and power-play constantly occurring.
  2. Still Not A Fan of Seth…By now, some people like him, but I still am not a fan of how back and forth he is. With his pack and the other heirs, he’s the sweetest and kindest of them all and just wants everyone to be friends and get along. He’s like a literal human golden retriever, which of course makes sense considering he’s a werewolf. But it just completely flips whenever he’s involved with the twins and suddenly he’s so cruel and calculating and just mean, and this constant 180 with him really rubs me the wrong way…

Conclusion:

Overall, book #3 has to be my favorite by this point with how the relationships have developed by this point in and how the romance has really kicked it up a notch by this point. Both twins have their forbidden romances developing at different speeds, and I’m loving both of them for different reasons, but both make this series so intoxicating and binge-worthy. I know I probably said that in the previous review, but it’s seriously so true!

I’m starting to notice how the co-authors really love to have these books end on really juicy cliffhangers, which I both love and hate at the same time, but either way that means you know I immediately go into the next book after I finished this, with hardly even a bathroom break in between.

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

To see my review of book #2 – Zodiac Academy: Ruthless Fae – Click HERE

To see my review of book #3 – Zodiac Academy: The Reckoning – Click HERE

More reviews coming soon!

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

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!

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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.

~~~

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!

~~~

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, or Miranda May

Meg Stalter, image courtesy of forbes.com
Miranda May, image courtesy of dellaterrawellness.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). Miranda May is an actress who I recently discovered who I think may physically match Geraldine’s description better!

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Marguerite Helebor: Abigail Cowen

Image courtesy of the actress’s IMDB profile

Abigail is just becoming a go-to casting choice for fiery redhead characters, because yes I totally admit I’ve casted her before on other series, but whatever, it works for me! Based off her character in “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” on Netflix, I know she’s capable of playing the “mean girl” role, so that’s my justification!

Principal Nova: Glenn Close

Image courtesy of emmys.com

I’m not sure how accurate this choice for me is, and for the life of me I don’t even remember if there’s anything really said about Nova’s physical description, but I could totally see Glenn Close being in the Head Mistress role for a fantasy setting like Solaria!

Milton Hubert: Will Poulter

Image courtesy of the actor’s IMDB profile

Anyone remember that awkward kid in “We’re the Millers?” Well, I totally see him being this minor character who enjoyed tormenting the twins when they first got to Zodiac Academy. Sure, he doesn’t have an actual unibrow…but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have a fake one put on in the makeup chair if this was to be turned into an actual show or movie series.

Professor Washer: Timothy Olyphant

Image courtesy of wideopencountry.com

Before I typed out my little explanations for my choices, a “lovely” person by the name of Bri gave me a rude response as to how bad of a choice this person thought this was…yeah, I’m being petty and I’m calling her out…but I’ve watched the “Scream” movies quite a lot over the years as I’m a fan of that horror franchise, and as I’ve watched “Scream 2” to be exact, and without giving too much away, that’s partially why I think he’d be a good choice for Professor Washer! He’s described as being an attractive guy despite how creepy he is, so thats the reasoning behind this, NOT THAT I NEED TO DEFEND MYSELF ON MY OWN BLOG…

Professor Astrum: Conrad Ricamora

Image courtesy of broadway.com

Again, I don’t know how accurate this choice is, as I don’t remember exactly how Professor Astrum is described, but Conrad is 42 years old, he’s on “How to Get Away With Murder,” and he’s kind of just who I pictured playing this character!

Francesca: Emily VanCamp

Image courtesy of eonline.com

Francesca is a badass female who’s in Solaria’s version of the FBI, and is able to really kick major butt when she needs to! After seeing Emily in the “Captain America” movies, I could definitely see her being a good choice in playing this character if this series was made into a show/movie, and thats what a fancast is supposed to be!

Lionel Acrux: Patrick Wilson

Image courtesy of wegotthiscovered.com

Patrick Wilson is an attractive dude, he could get it and is actually closer to “daddy goals” than a good of the men who get that recognition in my opinion! In “Aquaman” starring Jason Mamoa, he had his hair dyed blonde and wore this darker armor throughout, and for some reason that just made me think of him as Lionel when the author’s told us that Darius’s father was handsome and had blonde hair!

Gabriel Nox: Tyler Hoechlin

Image courtesy of zoomboola.com

Obviously Tyler Hoechlin would need a wig for this role, so yeah…I do know Gabriel is described as having longer hair, I didn’t forget that…but lets remember Orlando Bloom and how he was Legolas in “Lord of the Rings” ….I’m pretty sure his hair wasn’t naturally that blonde or that long, so there you have it! The power of Hollywood makeup, and Tyler is a pretty decent actor to top it off, so there’s my justification for this choice.

Xavier Acrux: Matthew Daddario, or Jacob Elordi

Matthew Daddario, credit to owner
Jacob Elordi, image courtesy of wonderlandmagazine.com

I personally see Matthew Daddario more as Xavier, but I could see Jacob Elordi also playing the character too! I can’t remember if Xavier is described as being tall like Jacob is, but I feel like age-wise he fits the bill and not taking his height into consideration, he kind of matches the physical description….I think?

Clara Orion: Violett Beane

Image courtesy of wikimedia.org

I’ll be honest, I was having a hard time picturing anyone for this character, and I saw someone suggest this actress somewhere either on the mycast website or Tumblr, but I think she looks the part! I totally agree with this choice and am adding it to mine.

Mildred Canopus: Billie Lourd

Image courtesy of today.com

Now since “Bri” also called me out on this one, I’m going to continue to be petty and explain this one. I am by no means calling Billie Lourd ugly for fancasting her as Mildred. I’m pretty sure no actor/actress/model/etc. actually looks like how Mildred is described in the books, but lets go back to that Hollywood makeup idea and how these physical qualities can be added on in the makeup chair before shooting! Ralph Fiennes doesn’t look like Voldemort in real life, right? Did Jason Isaacs really have long blonde hair as Lucious Malfoy, again NO! Seeing Billie’s characters in “Scream Queens” and the Cult season of “American Horror Story” are what made me think she’d be a good choice to be this character!

Rosalie Oscura: Tristin Mays

Image courtesy of cbs.com

I made a choice for this character because while I haven’t read them yet, I do know this character makes appearances in other books that take place in Solaria. Tristin Mays has been seen in “The Vampire Diaries” for a short while, and is even in the “McGyver” reboot that’s come out in recent years too!

Professor Highspell: Constance Wu

Image Courtesy of womenshealthmag.com

She’s the star of “Crazy, Rich Asians,” but I’ve heard Constance has been known to have a big head and be a total diva on sets, so that made this a quick choice for me when Professor Highspell shows up later in the book series!

Tyler: Chris Wood

Image courtesy of upi.com

I honestly couldn’t remember what exactly Tyler’s physical features are, like he could have blonde hair for all I know, but that doesn’t mean Chris couldn’t get highlights if that true anyways…I actually loved him as Kai in “The Vampire Diaries,” so thats where I got the idea for this fancasting choice!

Hamisch Grus: John C. Reilly

Image courtesy of onthisday.com

John C. Reilly totally has that big guy who’s a total goofball style of humor–I mean, have you watched “Step Brothers” or “Talladega Nights?”–but I could totally see him playing the role of Geraldine’s father!

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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! I’m currently up to finishing book 6, and haven’t finished book 7 quite yet! If anything, I’ll probably wait until Book 8 to update all at once to see if any more characters really need to be added.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell