Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday #Review - No Good Deed by Kara Connolly #YALit #Fantasy #Retelling @readKaraC @DelacortePress ‏

Series: Standalone
Format: E-Galley, 352 pages
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA, Legends, Myths, Fables

Fans of Marissa Meyer’s Heartless and Danielle Paige’s 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.
Story Locale: Nottingham, England

Author Kara Connolly's No Good Deed is her debut novel. The story is a unique retelling of the Robin Hood classic with a brilliant twist, plenty of action, and a wonderful cast of characters. Protagonist Eleanor "Ellie" Hudson is the second ranked archer on the US Women's Archery team. Her goal of winning a gold medal in the next Olympics is just a step away. All she has to do is win an international competition in Nottingham, England first.

But, fate takes a strange twist after Ellie follows a White Robed Monk into a cave and ends up back in the 12th century Nottingham. Ellie immediately finds herself in trouble after appearing at Nottingham Castle where the Sheriff of Nottingham rules with an iron fist. After jumping off a bridge to avoid capture, she is saved by Sir James Hathaway (Knight of the Temple). Soon thereafter, Ellie becomes one of the most wanted men, yes you heard me, in all of Nottingham. She also manages to become the most wanted woman in all the land, but I will leave that for you discover how. 

Ellie takes the identity of Robert Hudson, which is her brothers name. A brother whose fate is unknown for all of the story. The knave known now as Robin Hood, collects quite the group of misfits. From James (Friar Tuck), Much, Will Scarlet, & Little John, while being chased by  by Sir Henry Guilbert who is relentless in his desire to capture the person who has most done his image the most harm. Ellie's goals are pretty simplistic: Don't Die. Don't change history. Find a way back to her time. Ellie is a character who has all the characteristics that appeal to me as a reader. 

She is strong. She is brave. She is absolutely relatable. Ellie goes from being an a fish out of water, an archer without a bow, to attempting to discover why she was brought back in time, to having her very own 12th century longbow. Ellie does have a smart mouth at times, and yes it does get her in trouble. But, she also has the wit of Buffy, and the true aim with her bow that even Katniss would be impressed with. Were anyone else to be sent back in time who did not have the training and experience as Ellie with a bow and arrow, they would have been quickly gobbled up and spit out. Ellie also has her own moral coil. She hates to kill things, especially rabbits, and people. 

There isn't any romance in this story, but there is obvious tension between Ellie and several other characters. No Good Dead takes on Robin Hood in a way that will keep readers glued to their seats until the final page is revealed. As this story is set in the time of Prince John, and Eleanor of Aquitaine, there is some historical accuracy to the story as well. Eleanor really did participate in the Second Crusades. She really was as large as life as the author portrays her. Ellie meeting the woman she was named after, is just icing on the very strange cake that she has been served up.

Chapter One

Time stretched with the draw of my bow. Ancient ages whispered in the slide of the arrow on the rest, and all possibilities collected in that suspended instant when my breath slowed, my knuckle kissed the corner of my mouth, I loosed the shot—­

And someone’s cell phone went off in the spectator stands.

I got the shot off, but the bowstring smacked my arm above the guard. The sting ran all the way up to behind my eyes. I did a little it-­hurts-­but-­I-­can’t-curse dance but recovered quickly because, one, I did the same thing a couple of times a week, and two, Dr. Hudson’s Third Law of Competition Dynamics was “Never let them see you lose your cool.”

Maybe Dad didn’t put it quite that way, but it was what he meant. So I put my game face on and ignored the troubling fact that I’d let a cell phone distract me amid all the general tweeting and pinging and hubbub.

God, Ellie. Just because everyone’s watching to see when you crack .?.?.

Even before I peered through the scope set up beside me, I knew it was a poor shot. But it was good enough that I could recover with a high-­scoring arrow and make it to the medal round.

Hudson’s Second Law of Competition Dynamics was “There is no such thing as good enough.” There’s ten points and there’s try harder.

With the Olympic qualifying trials coming up, and as the second-­highest-­ranked woman in the United States, fifth or sixth internationally, it was time to make my move up the rungs of the competitive ladder. That was what I was supposed to be doing in Nottingham. Not shooting like a reasonably accomplished summer camp counselor.

But then, Rob was supposed to be here, not his alternate.


That was Dr. Hudson’s First Law. Its corollary was “Stay in the moment.” Don’t think about the last shot, or the next shot, only about this shot.

One arrow left in my quiver and two minutes on the clock. I took my time fitting the nock to the string, trying to narrow the prismatic scatter of my thoughts. I visualized myself on the podium, the way the team sports psychiatrist had suggested. But what my brain called up was Rob and me on the stand, the way the U.S. Archery Team had run our picture after my first national medal.

Crap. Instead of slowing its roll, my head game was about to go off the rails. I mentally swiped the image of Rob and me off the screen and zoomed in on the ten-­point X in the middle of the target. Just that. No flags and no nations, no babel of languages from officials and spectators. I focused until everything blurred except me and the target—­

And the bizarrely dressed man between us.

“Hold!” I shouted, lowering my bow and slacking the string. Years of safety standards kicked in before I fully processed what I’d seen. “Man downrange!”

The firing captain echoed my shout in three languages, and all the archers on the shooting line immediately complied. A confused murmur rippled through the spectators, and when I blinked myself back to the larger picture, I saw why. There was nothing between me and the targets, stretched out like a row of unblinking eyes.

The officials conferred on their headsets, checking that the range was clear. The delay wasn’t long, but I could feel the murmur of annoyance trickling through the shooters.

Finally the firing captain gestured for me to come off the line to talk to him—­pretty much the equivalent of getting called into the principal’s office. As I stepped away from my spot, the North Korean girl shooting next to me—­my major competition for the podium—­made a comment as I passed. It needed no translation.

Before the official could reach me, Coach jogged over, with a look of serious concern. “What happened, Ellie?”

I had my bow in one hand, and I spread the other in a palm-­up shrug. “There was someone downrange.”

Coach had brought Olympic medalists and world champions to the podium before. My brother was one of them. Coach was almost family. “Was it an official? A spectator?” he asked.

Honesty made me pause. “I’m not sure.” Safety had been drilled into me from my first archery lesson, and I knew calling a halt was the right thing to do, but I hadn’t really processed what or who I’d seen. I couldn’t even be sure if it was a man or a woman. I had the impression of a light-­colored dress or robe, like a costume. But I wasn’t about to say that, because that was just plain weird and I didn’t want to end up seeing a real psychiatrist. “I only saw him for a second, and then I yelled, and by the time I did that, he was gone.”

When the line captain reached us, we had almost the exact same conversation, except in French. After I explained, he still looked doubtful but got on the radio and instructed security to watch for someone dressed in light-­colored clothes. Then he had the field captain signal for shooting to begin again.

“Hey!” I protested. “I’m not on the line yet.”

“Then I suggest you get there, Mademoiselle Hudson,” the official said flatly, “instead of distracting your competitors with this delay.”

He left, and I spun to face Coach and vent my indignation. “What was I supposed to do? Keep quiet and hope this figment of my imagination didn’t get hit with an imaginary arrow?”

Coach made a calming gesture. “Ellie, this isn’t important. You’re wasting shooting time.”

“Not important?” I flapped a hand toward the French official. “I just got called off the line for doing the right thing! How is that not important?”

“Arguing about it isn’t important,” he said before physically turning me around and adding, “The time warning is flashing.”

It was, and I was still behind the ready line. It was bad sportsmanship to step up while my neighbor from North Korea was at full draw, so I had to watch the time count down while she held her shot much longer than necessary. She played a good head game, cranking up the pressure. Then, before she let loose, the woman to my right lifted her bow, holding me back another precious few seconds.

She loosed with six seconds on the clock. All the other shooters were finished, so I leapt to the line with my arrow already in my hand.


I fitted the arrow’s nock to the string.


I put my eye on the target and lifted my bow.


I brought the bow down and drew back in the same motion.


My knuckle touched the corner of my mouth.


I let fly.

The scores took forever for the target captain to tally, and I sweated it out on the field, where only shooters and coaches were allowed, unable to face my parents until I knew whether I’d screwed up or really screwed up.

By the time I got the news and went back to the field house, a lot of the women had already left, but the men were getting ready to shoot their qualifying rounds. Marco Canales paused in his stretching to give me some good-­natured hell. “Real dramatic, Ellie. Auditioning for a movie?”

“Courting the cameras, more like.” Erik Murray didn’t look up from adjusting the stabilizer on his bow. “The video is probably already on your fan page.”

I pulled off the sweaty headband keeping my shortish hair out of my face and shot Marco a “very droll” look. I ignored Erik Murray. He was something like nineteen going on a hundred and fifty; his younger brother had to set up his Facebook page. The thing is, my unofficial fan page was a little embarrassing, but Mom and I tacitly supported it with exclusive videos and interviews because the moderators donated any ad revenue to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Someone threw their arm around my neck. I jumped, but settled down when I saw the red, white, and blue manicure. Angela Torres was my closest friend on the team, as well as my closest competition. She was six years older than me but had never treated me like a kid, even when I’d been one. “What happened, Hudson? I was too far down the line to see.”

It was pretty quiet with the field house clearing out, so I set my equipment bag across two benches. “I barely squeaked by to the finals.”

She folded her arms and leaned against the wall, watching me disassemble my bow and pack up. “I heard you cracked under pressure. That’s why I’m not gloating about being ahead of you in points.”

“Enjoy it while it lasts, Torres.” I bantered on autopilot because I was thinking about what Angela had said. Had I cracked? I knew that’d be the gossip. Some bloggers had been just waiting for it to happen. I’d been training intensely, and competition was brutal even without any family drama. But if I was going to lose it and start seeing things, why would it be something so random?

“Are you going to tell me?” Angela prodded. “I promise not to tweet it.”

That made one. It was a matter of record anyway. “I saw someone downrange, walking across the field.” I didn’t mention the weird clothes, which were the one thing that kept me from believing the whole thing had been some kind of optical illusion, like I’d seen someone on the sidelines out of the corner of my eye and just .?.?.

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