Because Time Travel, I Guess: No Good Deed by Kara Connoly

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Fans of Dorothy Must Die will love this reimagining of the legend of Robin Hood. Girl power rules supreme when a modern girl finds herself in the middle of a medieval mess with only her smart mouth and her Olympic-archer aim to get her home.

Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.

Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?

Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

Source: GoodReads

I picked up this book, despite its hideous cover because the author has written some of my favorite books (under a different name-Rosemary Clement Moore).  I didn’t particularly like No Good Deed though.  While there were occasional glimpses of the wit that I loved in the author’s other novels,  it was overall a very meh book for me.

It probably didn’t help that I kept comparing it to all of those medieval Disney movies of the week that aired back in the 90’s.

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Seriously, what was it?  Did Disney like get a good idea on sets and medieval themed costumes?

Regardless, you can’t deny that they tried to style the MC to look like Kiera Knightly on Princess of Thieves.   Which actually came out in 2001, not the late 90’s but whatever.  It’s odd that they decided to style the book as such since the Ellie in my head looked fairly androgynous.

After all, she’s mistaken for male  for a good chunk of the novel without even trying to hide her gender at the beginning of the book-she’s wearing a sweater and relatively form fitting  jeans.  The chick whose posing on the cover, wouldn’t be mistaken as a guy.  And it is mentioned that Ellie has enough of a chest to later have to masker a makeshift sports bra so…maybe they thought her version of Robin Hood had moobs?

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But digressing…

But seriously, I think it’s one of the worst covers I’ve seen this year.

But this book isn’t about dissecting book covers (well, most of the time).  It’s about talking about the contents of the book and I’m afraid there’s not much to say.  At the beginning of the story, there seemed to be some interesting storylines-Ellie clearly had issues with her father, her brother was missing, and she somehow travels in time.

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Seriously, the time travel itself is never explained it just randomly happens.  ’cause you know, time travel just randomly happens.

I honestly, even wondered why she traveled in time because she kept saying how she wasn’t going to change history.

Trope Rant Time: Why the fuck have a time travel book, if you’re not going to change history.  I’m sorry, I know that some good time traveling adventures where they avoid changing the past (Back to the Future) BUT it just seems like it’s become an unnecessary cliche.

I mean seriously, you traveled through time.  You’re going to change history just by freaking being there.    Besides, how do you know that the history you live in is the right one.  Like, for instance, if I could go back in time before say the election from hell of last year I would be changing history you can bet you ass so that we wouldn’t have the Russian-phile  orange doofus in office and the US wouldn’t currently be the laughing stock of the world right now.

I digress though…it’s just one of those annoying trope that I’ll never get used to. And in this book, when the character is like, “I can’t change history.”

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I’m like, well, you are by pretending to be freaking Robin Hood, dearie.  I mean, think about it.

Anyway, I’ll never get used to that trope especially since the whole point in freaking time travel is to fuck things about.  But I seriously, don’t think much was changed.  Pretty much the only thing that was changed was the character’s clothes at the end.

I wouldn’t say the book was a complete loss though, not if you liked history.  There was some nice use of historical detail here and there.  I can tell that Connolly researched the novel.  But that’s not really that much of a surprise concerning her other books.  However, and I can’t stress this enough, if you are going to write a book about medieval England be aware that they did not speak modern English.

Modern English did not exist until Shakespeare’s day.  While Connolly acknowledges that it’s difficult for the characters to understand Ellie (but ultimately they do end up understanding her) it should be next for impossible for them to understand her.  Don’t believe me, take a semester of early Brit Lit and then we’ll talk.

After reading Chaucer and all that shit (which by the way was written about a hundred and fifty or so years after this book took place give or take a few decades) I can tell you that I’d have a hard time speaking that shit even then.

What bothered me more though was the  the lack of characterization.

It was just pathetic.  I could care less about these characters as the book progressed.  There’s one guy that I sort of think was suppose to be a love interest, but things never really developed that far and at the end we just sort of have the future look alike trope which I absolutely despise.

Trope Rant: Just because there’s a guy in the future that looks eerily similar to a past love interest does NOT mean that they are the same person.  Ever heard of identical twins, authors.  Thought so, considering everyone and their mother uses the evil twin trope.  But I guess a thousand years of time travel doesn’t mean that genetics randomly made a person look alike a long ago dead relative. No, it means they must share the same soul especially if they share the same name…

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And honestly, this trope wouldn’t have bothered me as much if there was an actual relationship.  But there wasn’t a relationship.  There was just a hint of one, and it was so small you had to literally do a squint bend and snap to see it.  In this case, I feel like it would’ve been better for the novel to go sans romance all together.

The other characters were merely there to serve a purpose to the plot.  I hate to say this, but when I read this book, I actually was thinking that Scarlet did a better job at telling the Robin Hood story, and we all know I had issues with that series.  But no, this book made me want to pick up that series again just because you know even though the characterization sucked, the characters actually served more than means to an end.

Really, the only character who had any development at all was Queen Eleanor (and FYI, YA authors I wouldn’t mind a retelling of a young Eleanor story she is bad ass on multiple levels even though her kids and husband ended up kind of sucking).

It pains me to say that I can’t recommend this one.  I love the author’s other books (in fact, I am tempted to do a reread of some of her stuff soon), but this book doesn’t work for me.   Had it spent more time developing the characters actually explaining why the character went back in time and exploring her life with the characters a bit more, I might’ve cared for it more.  As it stood though, it could’ve very easily been the blah Disney movie of the week.

Overall Review: A C.  It’s not horrible, per say, but I hardly recommend it.  At best it is average.

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Not So Much a Lady or Thief: Lady Thief by AC Gaughen

Least favorite Robin Hood ever.

Just going to say it.

And as for Maid Marian.  You think she’s wimpy  in every other incarnation well you haven’t read this book…

Also, in those other versions she speaks grammatically correct and not like a bad extra on Oliver.  Here speaking grammatically correct means you’re a snob.

Just for you guys to know, I’m sorry for sounding like  a snob.  It’s just that I got a degree in Snobbery (a.k.a.English) and that means, well, I hate grammatical errors.  Even though I know that everyone is not immune to them.

But for fuck’s sake, you are a noble.  Do you have to sound like some deranged Eliza Doolittle wannabe?

Plus, it doesn’t help when you keep acting like a dumb ass.

This is Maid freaking Marian we’re talking about.  I know that the character in essence is the definition of what a damsel in distress is, but at least give her some respect.  Despite the fact that she had to be rescued by Robin Hood every freaking minute, Maid Marian knew how NOT to annoy the audience like Scarlet did.

Heck, I think Gaughen had Scarlet get the shit beaten out of her, in part, because she annoyed her. At least that’s what I’m going to go with, otherwise I don’t know what to say about the constant beat downs Scarlet got.  Sure, she annoyed me, but I just can’t get by with having a character getting smacked to the point where she breaks a bone.  PTSD or not.

I get it sometimes a character is so annoying the author has to get someone to hit them.

It also doesn’t help when said person doing the beat down is Robing freaking Hood.

Yes, Robin Hood beats the shit out of his true love because of PTSD.  And I should mention that he did this is a sleep walking like state and a girl that can apparently defend herself still breaks a freaking bone because of this.

This whole plot point is wrong on so many levels.

Let’s start with the so called abuser: Robin Hood.

While I’m happy that Gaughen decided that Robin was going to have some lasting effects to his trauma, the type of effects he had really annoyed me.  PTSD is a serious issue, but here it more or less seemed like a poor use of a plot device that I just couldn’t get behind.  Especially since Robing Hood beats his lady love to the point where she has a busted up face and broken hand.  That is just wrong.  And while he did show some remorse, I really just didn’t see the thing in Robin’s character.

Plus, Scarlet/Marian.  Really.  You stayed in the same bed with him despite knowing he could randomly wake up and beat the shit out you?

Have some self respect, girl.

It also doesn’t help that the other guy that Scarlet is involved with (her husband) beats her up too and it’s deemed perfectly acceptable in society.

Yes, I get this is the medieval period and yes I get women weren’t treated exactly the best in the period, but the book wasn’t following anything else correctly if we’re going to get all historical about it.  So, why should we get historical about it now?

See, this is the sort of thing that bothers me.

You know what else bothers me, the fact that Scarlet’s ogles over Gisborne’s “bits” as she calls them.  First of all, if you can stare at them you can call bits what they are: penises.  Or when Scarlet talks about her own bits vaginas.  Seriously, just calling it bits all the time makes her emotionally maturity look stunted and that’s saying something since before this little quote in the book I felt like I was dealing with a twelve year old for a protagonist.

As for the so called plot in this book, I just got bored to be honest.

It could’ve been interesting.  With characters such as Prince John, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and even Gisborne (because yes, even Gisborne could’ve been made to be an interesting character), there could’ve been a lot of interesting plots and characters to make Lady Thief a interesting second book in this series.

Instead, it’s your stereotypical sophomore slump of a book.

Not that I really thought the first book was that great.  I just loved that concept and had hoped, really hoped, that somehow Gaughen would get her groove on with this series in the second book.  Alas, that was not meant to be.

It’s books like Lady Thief that really put me in a bad mood.  Retellings are probably one of my favorite subgeneras in YA.  If they’re handed properly they can brilliant, if not well…they’re like this.  Just leaving me bitter just wondering how this book made Robin Hood unsexy.  I mean, even Disney’s anamorphic version was still a fox.

Overall Rating: F.

A Robin Hood that Speaks with a Douchey Accent: Scarlet by AC Gaughen

It’s Kristen Stewart with a knife. Heaven help us.

Robin Hood is one of those poor figures that keeps getting ripped into shreds in various forms of multi-media.  Personally, I blame the fact he looks good in tights.  Guys who looked good in tights are basically destined to have themselves torn up in remakes and spinoffs.  Plus, he was considered to be hot in animated form-as a fox.  If people are finding his animal form hot then obviously that’s something to cash out on, right?

I’ll admit, I have fallen under Robin’s charm-that fox has it going on.  And when I found out that AC Gaugher had a Robin Hood retelling where Robin’s love interest is actually kick ass than chastity belt wearing, I had to give it a try.  However, I was not impressed.

Scarlet wasn’t completely odious though.  Bad it was.  But I didn’t outright hate this book.  I appreciated what it was trying to do.  I liked the idea behind it.  Having Robin’s love interest really be a girl in the disguise as Will Scarlet was pretty awesome.  However, Scarlet herself….

Oh God.  She’s one of those characters.

You know Kick!Ass girl which really means Lame Ass.

Yes, occasionally Scarlet can do something useful, but more often than not she needs saving.  And you’d think after being hit by an arrow or cut up that would make you immobile for a few days.  But nope, Scarlet heals faster than Superman.

And I could get over that because it’s Robin Hood, but it’s not Robin Hood that’s talking, it’s Scarlet and she has to have one of the most annoying mouths ever.

Before I start this rant, I’ll mention that I’m actually being nice here.  I haven’t gone into details about the historical inaccurcies about this book.  I sort of took it in with History Channel mentality.  I didn’t expect anything really to be remotely educational or historically accurate, but I did expect a good story.  However,  the way Scarlet was characterized just made me want to vomit.

The I’m a tough girl act got old fast.  Add her thoughts on romance in this book and the bad fake “poor” accent and I wanted to deck her.  Multiple times.  I get what Gaugher was trying to do with this character, modernize and update upon the traditional leading lady in Robin Hood.  Which should’ve been done, but the way this was executed just made the book flop.  Scarlet was just intolerable.  I kept hearing about how she could throw  knives one minute, and the next Robin would be protecting her from her own stupidity.

Speaking of Robin and Little John, and for that matter any other character with a penis in this book seemed to have it bad for our special moon eyed herorine-oh yeah, the unusual eye cliche was used (seriously, I thought that was something only fan fic writers used).  Even the bad guy has the hots for her, or at least wants to mary her even though he says he’s repulsed by her.

And the sad thing is, I didn’t like not one of those guys that were throwing themselves at her.  Little John was an ass.  Robin seemed okay till he saw Scarlet kiss Little John then called her a ho.  And the bad guy was just…well, disgusting.

Really, how can you make Robin Hood not sexy?  That is like the ultimate sin.  I mean, even Disney made him sexy and he was a talking animal.  People shouldn’t like talking animated animals, but there was just something about that damn fox that made him…well, a fox.

This Robin Hood though….well, let’s say that he has the personality of a wet noodle.

That’s right a wet noodle.  All I know about him besides his soft wheat color hair (and yes, that’s taken out of the actual book) and storm/cloud colored eyes that he found Scarlet and that she has feelings for him.  He doesn’t really do anything until Scarlet starts to get it on with John and then he’s like you whore.

I almost laughed when Robin said this.  When I wasn’t disgusted.  I mean, really?  Really?  Who says that.  Well, assholes that’s who but….

This is our leading man and Robin Hood at that.

I somehow was able to get passed all of this though and continue the rest of the book, but I found it to be lackluster and disappointing.  Conveniently Scarlet’s asshole Robin gets captured and she has to make a sacrifice that is similar to something you’d see on General Hospital.  It really was lame.

However, I hate to admit this, but I might read the sequel.  I sort of am interested in what is going to happen next, even though I don’t have high expectations.  But I don’t think it’s because of Gaughen’s story I think it’s because of the legend itself and the potential this series has.  Do I think it’s going to live up to it’s potential, no.  But I can always hope, can’t I?

Overall rating, three out of ten.  Potential, but god it needs help.