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on October 18, 2010
Let me start by saying I LOVED the "Wicked" series & when I read the reviews on Amazon I am at an absolute loss for how many people either have (a) bad taste or (b) just didn't "get it" because the POV changed or jumped around a bit, I thought it was AWE-SOOOOOME!

However, let's get onto "Crusade"......

I had no idea Nancy & Debbie were releasing this, (epic fail on my part) so when I spotted this on the bookstore shelf I snatched it up like I thought it was a mirage & promptly bought it. I am sooooooo glad I did. FINALLY a vampire series that's about death, destruction & bloodlust with just the perfect amount of romantic flavor. I mean Twilight was great but am I alone in thinking that Bella was kind of an ungrateful flippant brat & that it all ended a bit too "neatly" in Breaking Dawn? Hopefully I'm not, I just CAN'T be the ONLY person who thought this. Stephenie Meyer is good but J.K. Rowling she ain't.

In Crusades you'll meet mean vampires that kill, lie, cheat, have sex and basically run wild. Along the way you are introduced to the "Edward" of the series, that is if Edward actually acted on his more base impulses. Antonio is the "good vampire" in this series & Jenn "the human hunter" his lady love. The book takes place in current day with the premise being what would happen if Vampires living in the world came out of hiding & became our "friends".

But they're not, not really.

You'll meet Jenn, Antonio, Eriko, Jamie, Skye, Holgar & Father Juan, a group as diverse as anything to EVER come through Ellis Island. The aforementioned group are "Hunters", sworn enemies to the Vampires who seem friendly but are dead-set (no pun intended) on using humans as food or pets/amusements. That is IF they don't convert you, muwaaaaaaah ha ha ha!!!

Sorry, back to my point, there is someone for all in this book, no matter what, you'll relate to at least one of the characters. I mean, we've got a brooding love-struck vamp, a sexy haunted werewolf (not a "shape-shifter", a howling at the full moon werewolf), a heroine who doubts herself, a bad-ass Irishman, a white witch, a budding samurai & a priest. It's ALL here! The book is well written & you really get to know the characters and care about them. The POV does switch up a lot but it's easy to follow & it's cool how the book is "set" in several locales, Spain, Cali, New Orleans.

This has lots of action in it, fighting, staking, twisting off heads (of vampires), magic & surprisingly a deep religious element. And let's not forget the forbidden love angle, not a "triangle", just an angle in the story that I am happy to say doesn't overshadow all else. Strange, but it all just *works*! ! !

If you enjoy this genre, vamps/love story/action, you will LOVE Crusades! I cannot WAIT for Book 2! ! ! Thank you Nancy & Debbie!!!!
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VINE VOICEon September 9, 2010
I do a little jig every time I read a book where the vampires don't glitter and have blood lust. Can I get a heck yes for a story that evokes Buffy? I won't lie, I love a good kick butt story. I enjoy a whole lot of action, especially when that action involves stakes.

Crusade by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie is set in the future. Sort of like the Sookie Stackhouse books, vampires have revealed their presence to the world at large. However, the vampires don't want to make nice and they do not have an artificial blood substitute like TruBlood. The vamps are known as The Cursed Ones. Some of the humans have decided the acquiesce to the Cursed Ones and let them do whatever they want for the illusion of safety. Other humans, however, have decided to fight back. They are known as hunters. In my mind, I call them slayers. You know why.

There is quite a large cast of characters in Crusade. This has the potential to be confusing, as the book, while told in third person, often jumps in scenery. For example, I was reading about a fight going down in Spain, then the book would jump to a character in New Orleans. I did not really mind the jumping, as I felt it kept the story fresh. As for the characters, it was give and take for me. There is a priest named Father Juan, who is the teacher of the slayers. I thought he was fascinating. Then, of course, there was the main character, Jenn, who I will admit -- I felt was a bit stale. I mean, I have read her character before, girl who thinks she is not unique or special, but it turns out she is a snowflake after all. I thought the side characters were much more engaging. Jamie, one of the hunters, is a former IRA member. He's hot-blooded, quick tempered, and ready to jump into any battle. He's clearly battling with some inner-demons. THEN we have Eriko, who is the Hunter, meaning she got to sip the magic juice. Eriko is Japanese, and the story of why she decides to go to hunter school is fascinating.

As far as the writing goes, the story is very fun and full of action. However, I did not think Crusade was on level with the writing quality of, say, A Northern Light or The Book Thief. Although, I feel when you read a vampire novel, do you really expect a literary masterpiece? I certainly do not. I expect escapism, blood, and perhaps a bit of fun, which is precisely what I got from Crusade.
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VINE VOICEon November 29, 2010
CRUSADE takes us into a very believable apocalyptic world and paints a vivid possible future wherein vampires have stepped out of the shadows under the guise of friendship, lulled us into complacency, and when we were at our most vulnerable, they revealed their true nature.

Jenn was thirteen when the slaughter began. She was helpless to watch as her friends and family soon began spouting vampire propaganda and making excuses for freedoms they were forced to give-up. The vampires still maintained a show of friendship with humanity that is very reminiscent of Big Brother's control in Orwell's 1984. Those who spoke out against the vampires had accidents or simply disappeared.

The story begins with Jenn, now seventeen, and her team hunting a group of vampires in a little town in Spain. A lot of characters are introduced in a very short period of time and unfortunately none of them ever distinguished themselves clearly enough for me to care about them. There's a witch, a werewolf, a sympathetic vampire, a superhuman, and then Jenn. Jenn feels like the weak member of her team because she has no special skills or abilities and I have to agree with her.

The promised romance from the description is about as dull as I can remember reading in a long time. Neither Jenn or Antonio ever showed me why they were in love. We were just told from the first chapter that they were. They repeated that they love each other throughout CRUSADE, but it felt pretty hollow.

The story jumps from multiple POVs and time periods all building up to the final showdown with a particularly nasty vampire, but by then the appeal of this world had been overshadowed and I had long since stopped caring. I think I could have gotten more on board with CRUSADE if the story had started when Jenn first arrived at Sacred Heart Academy. We would have gotten to see her learn all her fierce vampire slaying skills, meet her eventual hunter teammates, and most importantly, see how she and Antonio fell in love. That could have been an interesting story. Instead, this very cool vampire apocalypse world is essentially wasted on a lethargic plot and an overabundance of flat characters.

Sexual Content: Kissing
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on February 2, 2011
When I saw this book on the shelf, I thought it had an interesting premise. Vampires who have taken over the world while a small band of skilled hunters work to eradicate the threat. Plus I knew Nancy Holder wrote some of the Buffy books, which I loved, so I bought the book.

I think I let the fact that I missed reading the Buffy novels influence my buying decision. The book had the Angel/Buffy thing going on but it was a very poorly crafted version of the real thing. I just didn't feel there was a strong basis for the connection between Antonio and Jenn. For a supposedly trained Hunter, Jenn was too scared and tentative -- Buffy she ain't. The other characters were not well developed, just a lot of disjointed discussions, missions that do not make sense, too many characters, and, yes, I agree with the reviewer who said that the foreign phrases are too much. They become distracting and irritating after the first few chapters.

All in all, I felt it was a waste of time and money. I've had the book for two months now and I'm still struggling to finish it when I can usually finish a book within a day. For those who are used to the humor and action of the Buffy books and those longing for a fix after reading Suzanne Collins, take a pass on this one.
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on September 29, 2012
I honestly don't know if I liked or disliked this. My thoughts upon finishing it are similar to those I had after finishing Holly Black's White Cat - the world, and the plot, are very well crafted.

But the characters, the characters!

Let's start with our main character, Jenn. She seemed fine at first. A bit distracted by her shiny vampire boyfriend, Antonio and a little bit stressed because she didn't move quickly enough to kill a vampire.

And then she becomes Bella Swann. I mean, Jenn is still MUCH better than our lovely girl from Twilight. Jenn can fight; Bella falls down. Jenn's trying to save her asthmatic sister; Bella... falls down.

But they're both so damn DREARY and DEPRESSING. Jenn cries throughout the entire book. To be honest, that's all I remember her doing. And you know what? She knows that's all she's doing!

... and she shut back her eyes tightly to hold back fresh tears. She was mortified. All she did these days was cry.

And then we have Antonio. Who is Edward Cullen, but better. (I apologize for the Twilight references, but they're the best I can do.) Antonio is a classic vampire, at least - he wants to eat Jenn (but so does Edward) and he burns in the sun, has fangs, can't live on animal blood, etc.

But the boy is training to be a PRIEST. And he's constantly watching Jenn as she sleeps, and thinking about sacrificing himself for her. Thinking he should leave to protect her.

WTF!?

And then we have Skye, who in my opinion is far more interesting than either Jenn or Antonio, but is also too stupid to live. I mean, yes, you're all witchy-with-a-bad-background. But if somebody bad in your past is stalking you and screwing with your entire team and mission, do you REALLY think that they're going to hate you because you didn't tell them before? Just TELL them so you can BEAT them, damn it!

Honestly? The best character in this entire story is Aurora, the villainous vampire. She's bitchy, controlling, plays with her prey, and knows how to get what she wants. I LIKE her.

This is followed by Jamie and Holjar, who made me struggle through my hatred of Antonio and Jenn. They're entertaining.

They're the only truly decent characters.

But the plot is good. And the world is good. And that's that.
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on August 13, 2014
Ummm...what can I say? Its trite, predictable and been done about a thousand times before.

PROS:
1. The world is well crafted and believable. You definitely don't want a post-apocalyptic world that you can't at least vaguely imagine.
2. Some of the characters are actually hilarious - Jamie, Holgar and the vampire Nick.

CONS:
1. So unbelievably predictable. I saw every "plot twist" a mile before it actually happened.
2. The central love story is practically non-existent. Jenn & Antonio barely have any time together and when they do, you don't even get the sense that they LIKE each other. And the priest angle was beyond ridiculous.
3. The leading heroines are flat out annoying. Jenn is a whiny, moony mess. She's constantly bemoaning her lack of worth to the group, yet she slays vampires without breaking a sweat. Skye is beyond idiotic, and her "inner turmoil" issues just make her appear weak and useless. Eriko is flat. There is no other way to describe her. The book wouldn't change a bit without her presence.
4. The POV switches randomly and without purpose. Its obvious the authors were desperate to feed the audience the characters' backstories and couldn't think of a creative way to do it
5. **This is specific to the audiobook only - GET A NEW NARRARATOR!! This woman cannot pronounce simple English words like "strength" or "anything." And her butchering of the name "New Orleans" made me cringe every time I heard it. Finally, her over-pronunciation of "s" in each and every word made me way to reach through the cosmos and STRANGLE HER!

BIGGEST CON OF ALL:
As Holder is the author of some of the Buffy novels, she should be a little more creative when creating a new vampire world. This trilogy is just a repurposed, post-apocalyptic Buffy minus the loveable characters and sense of purpose.
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on April 27, 2014
Contemporary, Paranormal, Spain, San Francisco and New Orleans

Jenn has been studying, living and training for the past two years at Spain’s Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is one of the few that have pledged to defend humanity against the vampires or at least die trying. The vampires though are gaining power and the battle has just begun.

She is forced to return home after the death of a family member. While in San Francisco Jenn discovers that it is now a stronghold for the vampires. She is a lone hunter apart from her team and because of that isolation she is now at risk. She needs and craves the company of her fighting partner Antonio. She wants his protection, reassurance and his touch. Though a relationship with Antonio has its own risks and the closer they get the more Jenn ultimately has to lose.

Now Jenn is facing a betrayal by someone that was once bound to protect her. She now has to face her doubts about everything she has believed to be true. If Jenn is going to survive she needs to trust in herself and her heart.

This is the start of a trilogy that while written about vampires proves to be story that is all its own. The plot is fascinating and very different. Reading how the characters interact with each other and how they react to each situation is interesting and pulls the reader into the story. It will also have readers wanting the next book just to see how everything works out or if it is even possible for it to be fixed. It also has several mysteries that while not quite answered in the first book makes for an interesting puzzle to solve. With every answer provided there are still more to be solved and will have readers looking forward to seeing just what drives each and every character in the book. This is one worth checking out.
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on May 3, 2012
Wow, I love Nancy! The Wicked Series was amazing and this series looks as if its headed in the correct direction. You had a connection with all the main characters and we went old school with the vampires! :)

This book was interesting, we had every kind of mythical being in one book and they are all thrown together. You connected with each one especially once you read about their pasts. I liked how she went back like that, we got a depth to each member on the team. I liked Jenn. She is so strong and her weaknesses are genuine. I hope that her sister doesn't go down a wrong path. I also have hope for her and Antonio.

Book two ahhh EXCITEMENT!!
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on February 20, 2016
I had a very hard time getting into this book. There are several characters, and it seems like quite a few have secrets or something going on behind the scenes that they don't let the others in on. With that being said, none of them really have anything special that sets them apart. Jenn is the main character. She doesn't have any confidence in who she is, and I'm not quite sure why others referred to her as a leader throughout the book. I didn't feel any chemistry between her and Antonio. There were moments that made me wonder why they were even in a relationship. I'm still wondering that actually, but it seems as if their feelings may be growing. We're given the back story on many of the characters which I found interesting. It let you know what made them who they are now.

I kept waiting for that moment where something would grab me or to feel that connection with a character, but I never felt it. Instead, I felt very disassociated from the characters, and without some kind of connection, it's hard for me to become involved in their fictional lives.
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on September 11, 2010
(This review was originally posted at [...])

Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié's portrayal of vampires, or Cursed Ones, in their new series opener Crusade feels eerily accurate. Do I know what it would be like if vampires made themselves known? Of course not. This isn't the same take one finds in Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries (also called the Sookie Stackhouse novels and basis for HBO's True Blood).

The vampires in Cursed have come out saying they love humans and only eat animals. They've won over the government. But, of course, they are liars. The Cursed Ones feed only on human blood and enjoy treating them as playthings and slaves. Many cities and governments bend their will to the vampires, changing laws to make it near impossible to stop them. They know what is happening, but now pretend to not know the truth.

The way Holder and Viguié lay out this new world, with each new atrocity, is ghastly in its realism. Each new revelation adds a layer to the world and a nudge in your mind that "that's totally how it would go down."

Not everyone in this new world is hiding their heads in the sand, though. Academies have cropped up -- most in Europe -- to train people to fight the Cursed Ones. Those who survive and graduate are called hunters, one of those graduates is made the Hunter (with a capital H) and given an elixer to heighten speed and strength. The school in Spain is the only one that takes students from outside its country. So, when Jenn flees America -- where the government quickly opened its arms to the vampires -- she heads straight to its doors. She and her team of hunters are about as different as you could imagine, and there is a quite a bit of in-fighting. The hunters are forced to figure out a way to fight the vampires without tearing themselves apart, and so far it isn't going so well.

Interestingly, Holder and Viguié elected not to make our main heroine the Hunter and defacto leader of the group. A different move and one I really liked. It adds a level of insecurity that many will be able to relate to and her mega crush on team member and only reformed vampire in existence Antonio is written to perfection. There are so many things that fight to keep these two apart. I'm excited to see how the authors will maintain that tension throughout the series (and for a big fat happily-ever-after at the very end).

The only downside here, really, is all the world building takes time. Yes, that's true of most first novels in a series. Having read this duo's Wicked series, I knew sticking with it was worth it, but be aware the plot doesn't really kick into high gear until about halfway through the novel. I would also note there are a lot of characters in this book and as the pacing speeds up it can get a bit confusing, but the core remains the same. I focused on them and knew the new people were part of a certain group.

Overall, Crusade offers a thought-provoking take on vampires and new slayers we not only can root for but also care about. There's a slow start, but the second half is engaging and the ending leaves one thinking about what may come next.
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