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.

Spirit and Dust: Rosemary Clement-Moore

So, a couple of years ago I went to a book signing by Texas Gothic which was by one of my favorite authors, Rosemary Clement-Moore.  During the signing Rosemary talked about the book she was working on which was supposed to have an Indiana Jones meets Leverage vibe and I was like I have to have that book.  And, well, now I do.  So, I guess I have to review it.

Book singings, a place where you can actually wear a dress with rabbits on it and get away with it.

General Summary: Daisy Goodnight can see dead people and she works for the FBI.  That’s like combining two of the best Meg Cabot characters ever and putting them into one person who’s even more awesome than they are.  Yeah, that’s Daisy.  And she just happens to be on a case and gets kidnapped.  By mobster and she has to find his daughter or she’s toast.  And did I mention she has a great aunt that’s like Lara Croft but without the short shorts?

Review:

There are several things I want in YA books.  This book has it all.  Let me list them shall I 1) kick ass heroine, 2) hot FBI agent that I imagine looking like a younger David Duchovny, 3) mysteries, 4) magic, 5) mobsters, 6) really hot mob henchman that doesn’t look like Steve Burton (thank God), 7) archeology, 8) museums, 9) dinosaurs, and 10) kick ass descendants who were like pioneers in their field and make you go Indiana Jones who….

Yeah, all of this is in this book.

You can nerd out now.

And it could’ve been ridiculous it really could, but somehow it all worked.  I honestly don’t know how Rosemary does it.  But it did work.

As usual, the characters were well formed.  From all the books that I have read of hers, this is probably Rosemary’s biggest strength.  Every book I’ve read by her has a distinctly different protagonist.  And this one is no exception.  And their all well formed characters.  True I like some Clement-Moore heroines better than others, and luckily for Daisy she’s on the higher end of the totem pole.  And so is Carson.

I like Carson because he’s multilayered.  He’s not a good guy and he’s not totally bad.  Yeah, I know in an action adventure story that’s the sort of love interest you want.  And it is, obviously, but in YA you don’t often see this type of character?  Sure we have “bad boys” but usually these are undiagnosed psychopaths.  There’s actually story to why Carson is the way he is and there’s so many twists and turns to it.

The one complaint I will make about characters is Taylor.  I really liked this guy even though he was barely in the story-well, in comparison to Daisy and Carson.  I guess that’s a good thing because love triangles really annoy me.  But I liked Taylor a lot.  And I hope he will be in another Goodnight book because he was pretty cool.  Though I will admit the FBI’s role in all of this was a bit of a stretch.

The plot as I said before surprisingly worked though it did drag a little in the beginning. Once it did start moving though it didn’t stop.  I can see this being where some people might get annoyed with the book.  It does get a little over the top again.  I mean come on, dinosaurs coming back to life that’s only in Jeff Goldblum movies and Night at the Museum too-sort of.  But it really worked nicely.  And I have to say, I’m glad to see Ancient Egypt finally be featured in a YA book where it actually works.  The research done on the archeology concepts was interesting.

Best Feature: Nerdom. If your a Harry Potter geek, Indiana Jones/Star Wars fan, comic fan, really anything where they have a convention where you can get dressed up and celebrate your geekdom this is the book for you.  Usually, pop culture references annoy me, but they are used effortlessly here.  Besides, who doesn’t like the occasion Harry Potter reference.  And it involves archeology and Egyptology that has my little fan girl mind going woohoo.  Honestly, the book almost has an Indiana Jones meets  Mickey Blue Eyes meets The Mediator meets 1-800-Where R U meets  Charmed feel and while that sounds so wrong it really works well.

Obviously, I loved this part of the story.  I mean, when I found out there was a comic convention going on at my law school graduation I was like awesome and had to get some cosplay in my photos.  Oddly enough, I think I’m probably dressed the most strange.  I blame the tam.

Worst Feature: Pacing.  The book starts off very slow, but it does pick up.  I often find that this is the biggest complaint I have with Clement-Moore books.   This did not fall to the pacing issues that The Splendor Falls had, but I did struggle occasionally with this book. But once I got into it…

Appropriateness: There’s some violence.  It involves the mob (obviously).  And some scary stuff you’d see out of The Mummy or something.  There’s also some hot kissing scenes too, though they never seem to go further than kissing.  Unfortunately.  As for language I don’t remember any f bombs or anything like that it was for the most part pretty PG-13.

Blockbuster Worthy: Sure, I’d love to see this one as a movie.  Here’s who I’d cast:

Daisy: Emma Stone.  Yeah, I know I casted her for Amy.  But I need a redhead with personality.  I mean, who else am I going to choose Lindsay Lohan?  Please.  Well, Amanda Bynes is wearing wigs these days…okay, now you have to know I’m joking.  I seriously think though that Daisy would be the perfect role for Emma to sink her teeth into

Carson: Andrew Garfield.  Okay, I’m cheating here.  But have you seen the new Spiderman?  And despite what my friend Henry thinks, Andrew has Tobey beat hands down.  It might help that Andrew’s version of Peter Parker isn’t going emo all after Kristen Dunst and doing some weird dance number that really belongs in High School Musical Part 5000.

Overall Rating: I’m giving this one a nine out ten.  I really enjoyed it.  It probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it had things in it that I really loved.  I hope we get another Goodnight book soon because they kick ass.  Thank you Rosemary for making my first day of BARBRI slightly bearable.

Texas Gothic: Rosemary Clement-Moore

I’ve loved Rosemary Clement-Moore’s writing ever since I read her first Maggie Quinn book.  Of course, when I heard she had a new book out I had to grab it and I was more than pleasantly surprised.  Texas Gothic, actually trumped the Maggie Quinn series in awesomeness which is hard to believe.

Summary: Amy Goodnight is playing house sitter for her aunt while she’s gallivanting off in the far East.  However, her summer job of watching Aunt Hyacinth’s herb farm is not as easy as she thinks and it’s not just because Amy’s dealing with a bunch of rowdy goats, five dogs, and  a cantankerous cowboy next door.  No, Amy’s life is made difficult because she’s being haunted.  Although, the paranormal might be considered abnormal to most, it’s not to Amy.  Though, she never thought she’d have to deal with the magical world herself.

Review: Love, love, loved this.  It was a nice refreshing read, exactly what I wanted.  There was mystery, there was romance, the was comedy, there was magic, and above all it was well written.  I’ve always been a big fan of Rosemary’s work, but there’s something about Texas Gothic that makes it stand out from her other works.  Perhaps it’s because the book encompasses a lot of things I like: sassy heroines, mysteries, Texas history, hot cowboys.  Or maybe it’s the fact that the book is so well put together: the character development is spot on, the plot flows effortlessly, and the dialogue sparkles throughout the book.  Whatever it is, I enjoyed it immensely.  So much that when I found out that Rosemary was doing a signing in my hometown I just had to go being the overgrown fan girl  that I am and was more than happy to find out that she’s working on a spinoff to Texas Gothic.

Best Feature: Kick ass heroine.  If you’ve read Texas Gothic and my blog,  it shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise that I loved Amy.  I’m all about sassy protagonists.  And Amy is one kick ass heroine.  I like the fact that Rosemary makes her Amy realistic.  She has faults and she’s not all knowing, or powerful, or perfect by any means.  She’s just someone you can relate to despite all the weirdness that goes on in her world.  Plus, Amy likes cherry limeade which is always a big plus.

Worst Feature: Um, nothing.  I tried to nitpick about something that I didn’t like about this book, but I really couldn’t find anything.  I was going to say that it was a stand alone, but then I found out about the spinoff (which is starring one of my favorite supporting characters in the book) so I can’t complain about that either.

Blockbuster Worthy:  Duh.  Obviously, I liked this book and it would make an awesome movie.   It has all the elements needed for a summer blockbuster: action, romance, the paranormal-which means the need for killer special effects.  Yeah, I definitely would like to see a film production for this.  Here’s who I’d cast:

Amy: Emma Stone.  Okay, so I’m sort of type casting her for every sassy red head YA character.  But I really liked her in Easy A and I think she would make the perfect Amy.

Ben: Hunter Parrish.  I think he looks like he could play the cantankerous young cowboy well enough.  Well, God knows he looks good enough to play him.

Overall Rating: Ten out ten stars.  Yes, it’s just that good.

Prom Dates From Hell: Rosemary Clement-Moore

I never went to prom and I never really wanted to either, despite the fact that I am a self proclaimed girly girl and have seen Pretty and Pink dozens of times before I graduated high school.  I didn’t even go to law school prom this year.  Yep, law school has a prom too.  So, I guess you can’t get away from prom even after you escaped high school.  Prom also seems to be a prominent feature in YAL books as well.  And why not?  Prom is supposed to be a time of passage and God knows formal wear always makes for a killer climax scene, as seen in Rosemary Clement-Moore’s book Prom Dates From Hell.

Summary: Maggie Quinn is a cynic and sort of psychic.  She just wants to get through her few weeks of high school and get out of Dodge.  Going to prom doesn’t even occur to her (smart girl).  However, things aren’t that easy since someone has decided to curse Maggie’s peers and perhaps her too with an ancient demon.

Review: Love, love, love this book.  I decided to pick it up a few weeks ago again and I was amazed again with how much I love the Maggie Quinn: Girl v. Evil series.  Clement-Moore is a genius when it comes to characterization.  Maggie and her friends come off as being very real despite all the wacky paranormal stuff that’s going on.  And speaking of wacky paranormal stuff, Clement-Moore knows her stuff.  The explanations seemed logical for all the weird stuff that was going on in Maggie’s world and I honestly think had Rosemary been screen writing that last Indiana Jones movie-you know, the one with the freaky crystal skulls- I would’ve been able to understand what was going on in that movie or at the very least had a few laughs.  And okay, it helped that Justin the resident paranormal guru was a hot guy who was interested in Maggie and that the other resident paranormal guru, Maggie’s grandmother, made for some nice comic relief.

Best Feature: Perfect Balance between character and plot.  You don’t see this often, but Prom Dates from Hell has that balance.  While it’s a highly action paced novel filled with creepy paranormal things that go bump in the night, Rosemary also develops her characters in a fantastic way.  For example, take D&D Lisa who appears to be just your average hell bent on world domination best friend but in actuality her character has much more depth to her.

Worst Feature: Open ending.  Though this is a trilogy there were some characters whose story was never really fully closed like Stanley Dozer’s for instance and Brandon.  Though we know what happened to them right after the prom, I was sort of interested in knowing what the lasting affects to their lives were.

Blockbuster Worthy: Oh yeah, this book reminded me of Buffy or Charmed.  One of those good old late 1990’s early 2000 shows where the heroine kicks butt and has perfect hair (though Maggie would probably argue with me that her hair isn’t perfect, but whatevs).  Here is my cast:

Maggie: Ellen Page, a.k.a. the go to girl on sarcastic teens.  I could totally see her doing the role of Maggie.

D&D Lisa: Emma Stone.  Remember how I said I really couldn’t see Emma playing Bliss Llewellyn from Blue Bloods because Bliss lacked spunk?   Well, D&D Lisa has that spunk.

Justin: For some reason I see Tom Welling in the role though he is definitely no longer a teen.  How long has Smallville been on exactly?  Anyway, Justin’s a grad student  so there might be a bit of leeway in age here.  And Tom still looks pretty young.

Brian: Corey Montieth he does play a jock with a heart of gold.

Grannie Quinn: Why Debbie Reynolds of course.  I have to say, I smiled when I read that comparison to her in the books because I love Debbie’s old movies like Singing in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  But if Debbie wasn’t available then Shirley MacLaine she would have the new age grannie thing going down for sure.

Overall: Ten out of ten prom dresses