This is a book review (yes, I read!) of a book titled Just One Damned Thing After Another, which is the first book in a series, titled The Chronicles of St Mary's, written by Jodi Taylor.
I subscribe to BookBub, a site/service that sends suggestions for books to read after you fill out a little bit of a profile so it knows what books to send you. then it sends you specials... usually the first in a series that may be free or discounted. If it appeals to me, I pick it up and stash it in my reading queue. I picked up this book (Kindle version) back in January and I'm not just getting to it.
Because of that methodology, I don't always remember what the book is about but rather, I trust my queue and go for it. This particular method makes it quite the surprise when I start reading a book and figure things out as I go. With that said...
The book starts out following a young lady named Max, who gets an invitation to come out to the mysterious St Mary's Institute of Historical Research for a curiously odd interview that becomes the interview of a lifetime!
St. Mary's is not your typical historical society at all, but you must not tell anyone, because unlike most literary history research facilities, St. Mary's doesn't read about history, they take trips through time to witness historical events, or, to observe and record! Yes, it's a time travel society that bounces around various parts of history to observe and report on events, first-hand, answering doubts and questions about a number of events that were written down but not properly categorized.
Imagine watching the great pyramids actually being built! Or being in the middle of eleventh-century London or watch, first-hand, events within World War 1.
But this kind of research does not come without it's hazards, since historians find themselves knee deep in the very trouble they sometimes mean to watch. I mean, honestly, how dangerous can it be to hang out by a watering hole in Cretaceous Period?
To train to be one of St. Mary's Historians requires mental ingenuity, physical stamina, and a fortitude that will prepare any human to nearly be on par with the toughest of marines. The washout rate is high and the survivability of the job is questionable at best. But it's the job of a lifetime!
But alas, the business of time requires money so they must have paying clients to help them keep up their research, but as with all good things, there's always someone who screws it up, and given enough time, rather than just have a team that observers and reports, some rogue historians try to convert and twist the real intent of St. Mary's, a problem that Max and the crew have to continually contend with.
One of the things I first noticed when I picked up my phone to read my Kindle version, was how light and quick paced the story can be, sucking you in and making it hard to put down. I normally will read from five to ten 'pages' at a time, but Taylor sucks you in in just the right way that really did make it hard for me to put the book down.
For one, some of the staff at St. Mary's are a cantankerous bunch, always causing some kind of mischief and blowing things up. If they're not blowing things up, they're getting yelled at by the senior staff, while their afternoon tea continues to get interrupted for one reason or another.
Following Max and her peers is a pure joy and with it, her sense of practicality or stubborn free-for-all attitude, the story can have more LOL moments than I dare remember from any other story or book I've read. I love Max's spin on getting things done... if she lives through it. And it's here that the writer's sense of humor really kicks in and grabs you. Imagine someone with your quirky sense of humor...
The time travel tech is not really explained, nor do some of the missions seemingly make sense, because why would you put yourself in the middle of one of the biggest fires in man's known history. And yet, they pull these things off with nary a scratch or scrape maybe... or heck, even a broken arm or two for their efforts. But nothing too serious. Unless it kills them.
Yet through it all, you feel the pain when we lose characters, and sit on the edge of your seat as our heroes find themselves on the run from nefarious elements of history.
All, so much, as they don't tinker in any way with the fabric of time itself. For instance, their strict and thorough method of picking up after themselves from one of their trips is exhaustive, yet, it would do no good to leave any kind of modern-day tech to be discovered after it's sitting in the clay for a few thousand years, right?
All in all, the first book was such a fun read that I jumped right into the second book, and from what I understand, I have nine books, well, 8.6, to go now. I love when a good story doesn't end. Love it! (UPDATE.... 7.8 now... I can't get enough of this series!)
If you like your fantasy/science fiction with just the right amount of science that is not weighted down by technicalities so it's easy to grasp and go with, peppered with characters with a mild case of humorously fatalistic dedication, I think you'll love this book and possibly the series, but I can't vouch for the series. Yet.
After over 1100 Amazon ratings, the book has a 4.4/5 rating.
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