Site icon Steph Lives in Pages

Why Zodiac Academy is my favorite series


This post may contain affiliate links. I make a commission from purchases made at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my book-buying habit and my blogging dreams!

Zodiac Academy, oh Zodiac Academy, count the freakin’ ways…….

Or maybe I should say Darius Acrux, Darius Acrux………..actually it should probably be the masterminds behind the series, Caroline Peckham & Susanne Valenti, let me count the ways…

If there is one thing I will never get sick of talking it’s my love for Zodiac Academy. This series is so near and dear to my heart and is actually the catalyst that landed me in the online book community in the first place. I was a lurker of the online book community for so long and finally joined TikTok in December so I could start making Zodiac Academy content and find more ZA-loving book friends. Spoiler alert, I have found some of my dearest friends through this community and it’s been an amazing experience.

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you’ve probably already heard the story of how my love affair with Zodiac Academy came to be. For those of you who haven’t heard this story a billion times already, here’s the whole story.

My family and I were heading to the cabin for a week and, before we headed to a place with notoriously bad phone service, I was browsing a book-related Facebook group that I was a part of in search of books to fill my KindleUnlimited queue. I stumbled upon a thread of recommendations featuring spicier books and landed on a comment that recommended Zodiac Academy as a “spicy Harry Potter for adults“. I immediately added it to my queue and went about my business.

I already knew I was a fan of spicy books, having started reading what most people call “smut” when I was around 15 years old. How I got my hands on them, I’ll never know, but I do know I had a great 10th-grade language arts teacher who had great taste in books and an equally great classroom library. I have already talked about my immense love for Nora Roberts on this blog before but I’m sure we’ll have a post dedicated to her at some point as well.

At this phase of my life, I was reading mostly thrillers, mystery, and crime books, so I wasn’t immediately driven to start it. I had also purchased the first Ebook of JR Wards Black Dagger Brotherhood series, which I had started around 2010 give or take, so I was in the mood to venture back into the spicy fantasy world of literature. I also was strictly reading KindleUnlimited books because I had decided I didn’t want to store any more books. I was even thinking of donating some of the books I had. Insane to think how much has changed in this last year.

So, the plan was to go to the mountains for an extended stay, I was loaded down with my kindle and my bag full of personal development books, and we were off. I read the first two books in Rachel Caine’s Stillhouse Lake series, which I highly recommend. They were SO GOOD.

I wish I could remember exactly the queue of my kindle at this point, but after I was finished with Killman Creek, I decided I didn’t want to continue the series and wanted to move on. I was between starting the JR Ward book and starting Zodiac Academy, ANNNNNNNND Zodiac Academy (ZA) won out.

Now, if you are here on my blog or have stumbled upon any of my social media platforms, you are probably aware that Zodiac Academy is my whole personality. Darius Acrux has the best character development of all time and I will die on that hill. But this was not an instant love affair on my end.

When I was reading The Awakening, I remember thinking “How can someone actually compare this to Harry Potter? This will never have me as obsessed as Harry Potter.” hahahahaha lets all laugh over my ignorance. And, yes, that was the exact thought I remember having.

I read book one, which was zero percent spicy so I was like WTF is that person even talking about this being a “spicy Harry Potter” but the cliffhanger had me intrigued. We really got slapped in the face with some traumatic stuff towards the end of this book and I was fairly invested.

At the cabin, we have poor phone service, so after I finished The Awakening, I hopped on the golf cart and drove up into one of the fields on the property where I could get enough internet reception to download Ruthless Fae. After I started Ruthless Fae, guys….the obsession took over. I was devouring these books at rapid speed. My heart and soul were invested in a level of obsession that I hadn’t felt in a hot minute and my life as I knew it officially was over. I had entered my Zodiac Academy Obsessed Era.

By book three, the level of spice picks up IMMENSELY and the series just gets spicier and spicier as it continues on. (Buckle up for Heartless Sky. Wow)

Zodiac Academy Series

I read The Awakening, Ruthless Fae, and The Reckoning, which were all progressively more amazing than the last book. I was thoroughly hooked, invested, and in love with fictional characters and a magical world, but when I got to the end of book 4, Shadow Princess, I was IN PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND MENTAL PAIN AND TURMOIL. We were still at the cabin at this point, so remember we had barely any internet service at the cabin. At the end of each book on KindleUnlimited, Caroline and Susanne have links for you to enter that particular book discussion group. I was standing in one corner of the cabin that occasionally gets service desperately trying to join the Shadow Princess discussion group. I was crying, distraught, and devastated, I couldn’t function and I needed to find people to help me through this. I also used this time to text my book bestie how insanely in love I am with this book. Desperate to convince a real-life friend to read it, as well.

I did not finish Cursed Fates while in the mountains. I remember trying to read some of book 5 on the drive home but ya girl gets car sick.

Random Fact: I read on the Kindle app on my phone A LOT. I also would lay with my son when he was going down for a nap and read during that time. I was reading so fast that I was unwillingly skipping ahead and reading too fast, so I put my hand over the screen to shield what was coming next so often during my book 5 and 6 read-throughs that my son started to do it for me hahaha He’s an angel.

Books 5 and 6, Cursed Fates and Fated Throne, truly have some of the most delicious character development I’ve ever read in my entire life. Darius Acrux hands down has the best character development to ever been read by my eyeballs. I am truly in awe of the story that Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti have created in this series.

So, at this point, we were home from the mountains. I was infiltrating the Zodiac Academy Facebook groups, scouring Pinterest, Etsy, and Instagram to try and find all the Zodiac Academy content I could get my grubby hands on. A year ago, we barely had anything in terms of fan art. I was just utterly desperate for more of these characters that I STARTED A REREAD. This is unheard of for me. I do not and have never reread a book until Zodiac Academy.

Moving on to waiting for Heartless Sky…

When I began this unknown journey that would change the very projection of my life forever, I didn’t realize that ZA was an unfinished series. I wasn’t expecting to fall so madly in love with it either. I believe that The Awakening As Told By The Boys came out in September of 2021. Besties……I took melatonin to knock myself out at 8 pm so I could wake up at 12 am to read it when it was released, only to wake up and realize that KindleUnlimited is approximately a three-hour delay time and I probably wouldn’t be able to download it on KU until around 3 am. Well, you best believe I was waking up every hour on the hour until it was downloadable. The Awakening ATBTB is truly a remarkable book that I recommend not reading until you’ve at least read book 5 or 6. This is my personal opinion and many disagree, but having read it after book 6 myself, I’m glad that’s how I read them.

Then I went back and read the available Novellas and continued my reread while I waited for Heartless Skys’ release.

In Caroline and Susanne’s reader Facebook group, which I HIGHLY recommend joining, they do what they call ARC shark day. This is where you get the opportunity to get an advanced reader copy (ARC) before the official release date. I studied their ARC shark file in the group, made sure my kindle email was copied and ready to be pasted (I later realized I had the wrong one anyway) and I believe they gave 100 copies of the Heartless Sky ARC and it was a matter of seconds. Milliseconds. I thought I was a shoo-in and was so fast but I did not get the ARC. My adrenaline was raging to the point that my hands were profusely shaking afterward. It was insane and I am ridiculously in love with this series.

Join their Facebook group HERE

Besties, when I say that I WAS COUNTING DOWN THE SECONDS to get my hands on that book, I’m not joking. I learned my lesson from the ATBTB fiasco and I preordered the Kindle book so I’d have it right at 12 am. I still have the timer on my phone that is set for 11-something pm that is labeled ‘Reunite with Darius‘. I’ll never delete it.

Reasons why Zodiac Academy is my favorite series

We have my origin story down, now it’s time for me to tell you a little more about WHY this series has me in such a chokehold.

Feeling all the feels

First and foremost, Caroline and Susanne’s writing is my favorite. If you’ve ever caught one of their Facebook lives, you know they are hilarious in real life and that dry, dark, twisted humor shines through in their books. There is a reason their fans call them The Twisted Sisters.

My favorite part of the sisters writing, in all their books; not just ZA is their ability to make you feel such a wide variety of emotions. In a matter of paragraphs, you can be happy, sad, infuriated, madly in love, shocked, and sometimes utterly devastated. I personally love feeling all the wide range of emotions they drag me through during their stories and I am always shocked, no matter how many times they slap me with a plot twist, that they’re able to keep me so in the dark on what is going to happen.

Keep me guessing

Something that will mildly ruin a reading experience for me is if I can figure out what’s going to happen. I can say that, for the most part, the sisters always keep me guessing and I am here for it. Even if they’ve hurt me many, many times.

They’ve almost ruined me for other authors because now when I’m reading a book that has a plot twist or a conflict, I’m like….that’s it? It’s over? Did you resolve it already? Oh, that was easy.

When you’re reading a Twisted Sister book, you get a plot twist, drug through pain for 167 pages before MAYBE getting a resolution, and sometimes they just slap you around some more instead of giving you any sort of relief. I love it.

Top-tier character development

I’ve already mentioned that Darius Acrux has the best character development of all time and I’ll stand by that statement until my last breath or until the off chance I read someone who throws him off the pedestal I have him on.

Besides Darius, The Sisters write truly divine character development in all of their books. I am always blown away by how they are capable of taking me from absolutely LOATHING a character to loving them and wanting to protect them forever. This has happened in a few of their series. They are literary masterminds, I’m telling you.

Caroline and Susanne have written some of my favorite characters of all time. Their characters are those that stick with you forever and make you wish they were real humans.

They also write some amazing female main characters who take no shit, speak their minds, and don’t need to be saved by a man, and I love their FMCs so much. My top two favs are Tory Vega of Zodiac Academy and Brooklyn Meadows from The Dead Men Walking duet. They are my soul sisters and I love them so much.

An amazing, thriving, engaged Fandom

In my opinion, there is nothing worse than loving a book with your whole heart and soul and there is no fandom to dive into once you’ve finished reading.

This is not the case with Zodiac Academy because The Twisted Sisters have a THRIVING fandom and an amazing Facebook group full of fellow raging fangirls who you can discuss their books with all day long with.

They also have designated spoiler-friendly groups for each individual book, which is AMAZING.

Their Facebook group is one of my favorite spots on the whole internet. The fans of the sisters are truly amazing and I love scrolling that group. I actually hate Facebook but wanted to be in that group so I made a new Facebook profile under my booktok handle so I could still be in there.

Let’s wrap this up…

I truly could go on and on about my love for this series, as well as for Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti. Not only is Zodiac Academy my favorite series, but they quickly became my favorite authors and I love diving into everything they’ve written. I am currently reading Darkmore Penitentiary, which I was going to save until after ZA is complete, but I have dreams of getting added to their ARC team so I need to be prepared.

When I say reading Zodiac Academy changed my life forever, I’m not even being dramatic. It truly did. It is why I ultimately made the leap into the online book community, so I could find more ZA friends, and that alone has changed everything for me. I can’t begin to express my gratitude for this community, which, again, I am only apart of for the Zodiac Academy content.

Even though Tory is more my soul sister than Darcy, I did need the blue hair. *sigh* I already miss it

Have you read Zodiac Academy? If so, what did you think? Constructive, kind discussion only. Also, who is your favorite Heir? And who is your favorite Vega?!

If you haven’t given Zodiac Academy a try, I can’t recommend it enough. It is my first book rec, always, and I love dragging people into this fandom with me.

Exit mobile version