Time Travel discussion

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's, #1)
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Book Club Discussions > Just One Damned Thing After Another: 1/1/18-2/28/18

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Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's, #1) by Jodi Taylor

Just One Damned Thing After Another

"History is just one damned thing after another."

Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet.

Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document - to try and find the answers to many of History's unanswered questions...and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And, as they soon discover - it's not just History they're fighting.

Follow the catastrophe curve from 11th-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake....

Reading & Discussion Timeline:

January and February 2018

Where to find:

282 pages
$3.99 Kindle version
$10.78 paperback
Free ePub download on book’s GR page


message 2: by Dean (new) - rated it 1 star

Dean | 155 comments I wasn't going to bother with this one, but Amazon currently have it for 99p for the Kindle so I will give it a go.


Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
I need to pick this up from the library.


Leann (7leann) | 15 comments Enjoy! I thought this was amusing and historical wrapped up into one.


message 5: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 109 comments I've been wanting to read this for a while now.


message 6: by Mike (new)

Mike | 12 comments Got it! I did not know you could set up a free EPbub on Goodreads.


message 7: by Isa (new) - added it

Isa Briarwood I had this one on my Kindle and never got a chance to read it. So I guess now is as good a time as any.


message 8: by Tom (last edited Jan 03, 2018 07:46PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tom Lange What do you know?! I am finally on pace with the group with one. Just finished this. :)


message 9: by Nathan, First Tiger (new)

Nathan Coops (icoops) | 544 comments Mod
Glad we are getting into this! Looking forward to the discussion.


message 10: by Nathan, First Tiger (new)

Nathan Coops (icoops) | 544 comments Mod
So far my most enjoyable aspect of this book is the mood. I love that Jodi Taylor sets us up with such a likeable protagonist and lets us into her quirky asides. It's been a while since I've read a book that so clearly indicated that it was going to be fun above all else.


Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
They title itself gives the impression it will be a fun book to read. Still waiting for library book to arrive.


Tingletangle | 5 comments I have started reading it - enjoying it so far. Seems a mix of fun, time travel, survival, history... nice mix.


message 13: by Dean (new) - rated it 1 star

Dean | 155 comments I'll be starting it tomorrow. Glad that initial feedback is that it's fun with a likeable lead, as I haven't really enjoyed the book I am about to finish.


message 14: by Joe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joe (meinplus3) | 1 comments Liked this book and glad that it’s a multi-book series.


Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 427 comments I just finished chapter 1 and I can tell it will be an enjoyable read.


message 16: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 109 comments I just made a quick 180 and chucked another group's read in favor of this one. I need something with a little bit of humor.


message 17: by Nancy (last edited Jan 08, 2018 07:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
I just started and so far I am enjoying the humor. I like Max.


Samantha Glasser | 208 comments I am loving this book so far.

(view spoiler)


Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
I’m up to ch 9.


Samantha Glasser | 208 comments There are elements that remind me of The Company series and others that remind me of Connie Willis' Oxford Time Travel stories. It is definitely a quick, engrossing read.


Jennifer Macaire | 59 comments I enjoyed this so much I got the whole series!


Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
Jennifer wrote: "I enjoyed this so much I got the whole series!"

Awesome!


message 23: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 109 comments Samantha wrote: "There are elements that remind me of The Company series and others that remind me of Connie Willis' Oxford Time Travel stories. It is definitely a quick, engrossing read."

Thank you! I am reminded more of Connie Willis's series, especially Doomsday Book. Don't both touch on (view spoiler) in modern times?


Leann (7leann) | 15 comments Jennifer wrote: "I enjoyed this so much I got the whole series!"

That's great! I've read .5 through 2.5, plus 4.5 so far. Some of the short ones were (are?) free on Audible.


Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
I finished!


Tingletangle | 5 comments I finished too, and enjoyed. The mix of fun, some clever ideas in relatin to time travel paradox, some surprises, the likeable protagonist, and some great thoughts about the Arts being neglected as an area of scientific study today, lasted throughout the book.


message 27: by Mike (new)

Mike | 12 comments Exam month, so I haven't read a word between studying and doing writing stuff. Sorry, guys


message 28: by Nancy (last edited Jan 11, 2018 05:20AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
Mike wrote: "Exam month, so I haven't read a word between studying and doing writing stuff. Sorry, guys"

That’s ok. The club read is active until February 28th and the threads are always open to add to the discussion even when the club read date has passed.

Good luck with your exams!


Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
Tingletangle wrote: "I finished too, and enjoyed. The mix of fun, some clever ideas in relatin to time travel paradox, some surprises, the likeable protagonist, and some great thoughts about the Arts being neglected as..."

I liked Max. I liked the humor. It was a fun book to read and had a good pace.


Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
I have added the next book to my to read list.


message 31: by Nancy (last edited Jan 11, 2018 05:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
Here is a reading question to ponder:

If you were a historian, would you be able to just observe and document or would you feel compelled to help if people’s lives were in danger?


message 32: by Dean (last edited Jan 11, 2018 03:18PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Dean | 155 comments I feel like a right grouch here, but this is a DNF for me. I just felt the author was trying way too hard to make every other thought or sentence Max spoke be funny. I was trying to treat the book as a very light-hearted bit of fluff and not take it too seriously but then there are a couple of incidents thrown in that feel out of place considering the tone of the rest of the book and besides, there are way, way too many other issues I have with it for me to continue - the whole 'world' portrayed makes no sense; from the very basic, such as why on earth would there only be a handful of 'Historians' and are the two most qualified people on earth to make a historic trip likely to celebrate like nursery age kids. I won't list all my issues and bits that made me cringe as they will mainly be spoilers, but most of the existing 1 star reviews pretty much sum this up for me.

I have no problem suspending my belief to read about time-travel, and i'm not even fussed that the method of time-travel is vague, but the totally unbeleivable and inconsistent way that the characters behave is too much for me (bar-fights..?). A little wonder or sense or awe when finding out TT exists may also have been a bit more believable. Coupled with a lead character who just wasn't that likeable to me and seemed to much of a smart-ar*e..., i'm clearly not getting out of this what others are.

I was going to stop reading at the 'we hit a tree' bit (yeah, that bit) but persisted for a few more chapters before deciding this was only getting worse and that I didn't actually care how it ended.

Sorry all.


message 33: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue (mrskipling) Nancy wrote: "Here is a reading question to ponder:

If you were a historian, would you be able to just observe and document or would you feel compelled to help if people’s lives were in danger?"


It's an interesting question. I often think the same thing about news/war photographers. Don't they sometimes want to throw down the camera and actually help?


message 34: by Jennifer (last edited Jan 12, 2018 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jennifer Macaire | 59 comments Sue wrote: "Nancy wrote: "Here is a reading question to ponder:

If you were a historian, would you be able to just observe and document or would you feel compelled to help if people’s lives were in danger?"

..."


As I read this, that was one of the questions I asked myself, and I think it would be very hard to remain neutral. That said, look at all the animal documentaries where the animals are injured or die - my husband and I were watching one where a baby lion got hurt, and we kept saying "if I were there, I'd step in and rescue that cub!" LOL I would make a terrible historian!


Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
If you are far away from the “action” and still able to observe then it would probably be easier to not step in. Being in the thick of everything going on, makes it more difficult to just observe.


Samantha Glasser | 208 comments I would definitely need to get involved in the events. I’ve always been most interested in cultural history so the idea of not being able to interact and internalize the people would just defeat the purpose for me.

There are things about this book that were unbelievable for me, but it was so fun I didn’t care. It was like watching a summer blockbuster that has lots of flaws, but you ignore them because you’re enjoying it anyway. I can’t wait to read the next book.


message 37: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue (mrskipling) Samantha wrote: "There are things about this book that were unbelievable for me, but it was so fun I didn’t care. It was like watching a summer blockbuster that has lots of flaws, but you ignore them because you’re enjoying it anyway...."

Samantha that sums up just how I felt about this book, and actually the ones that follow as I've read several now. It's an interesting observation because sometimes I do give up on a book if the plot doesn't hang together properly. With this one I could see all its flaws, but I just didn't mind them.


Jennifer Macaire | 59 comments It's such a fun series - I have read all of them, and I really enjoyed them. I even got my bookaholic mom into the series!


Nancy (paper_addict) | 1047 comments Mod
I don’t think I could live day in and day out at the same place as I worked and be around the same people all the time.


message 40: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Mathews | 109 comments I just finished it and found it very enjoyable but not exactly earth-shattering. As to Nancy's question, I believe it would be anybody's first instinct to help someone whose life is in danger. I think what the historians would need to do is drill into their heads the fact that, no matter what they do, the people they are tempted to rescue will still die.


message 41: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann Crawshaw | 4 comments I loved it


Samantha Glasser | 208 comments The last mission: (view spoiler)


message 43: by Ned (new)

Ned Huston | 36 comments Year before last, I read a bad novel (titled THE CIRCLE) and decided to see if I could learn a lesson about writing from it since I wasn't getting anything else out of it. The characters were terrible--unrealistic, unsympathetic, unmotivated. So I started thinking about it, and I realized it doesn't really matter if the supporting characters don't work--so long as the main character does. If the main character Mae was just believable or likable or interesting. Or if I could relate to her somehow, the book might succeed. But, no. Mae is a zero.
On the other hand, Max from JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER hits all four qualities for me. She's believable, likable, and interesting, and I can relate to her. so although I agree with most of Dean's observations about this book, I feel differently than he does about this narrator.
Dean thinks Max tries too hard to ingratiate herself with the reader, and I have to agree with him. But I've known people like that in real life, so that quality didn't put me off. I thought the author captured Max's voice perfectly, and although she doesn't always succeed in her attempts at humor, she made me laugh several times (some later in the book, after Dean gave up). I think a first person narrator needs to ingratiate herself with the reader, so her persistence didn't bother me. She failed with Dean, but she succeeded with me.
Dean also felt there were wild swings in mood in the novel, and I would have to agree he's right. (view spoiler)
It's odd that I can agree with someone so closely but feel so differently about a character. Dean didn't like Max. I did. Maybe that's due to differences in taste or temperament or experiences with people. I found her straightforwardness and earthiness charming, but I can see how it could be off-putting. I'm not sure I would like this character if I met her in real life. I wonder if Dean and I picture this character differently or hear a different voice when we read.
(view spoiler)
Another thing that worked for me is how the book develops the atmosphere of a real-life workplace where people interact as a team. These other characters are not as well developed as Max, but they're good enough for a supporting cast. I found St. Mary's an effective setting for this story.
I also liked the way the book grips the reader after the characters enter the Cretaceous Era. Tension that tight is not easy to come by. Of course, it won't work if you don't like the main character.
Beyond the characters, Dean had other criticisms of the book that I would have to agree with. He just missed some of its other strengths. It's a four star book for me. I think the book suffers from the Five Cardinal Sins of a Bad Time Travel Story. It's a good story--just not a good time travel story. I could go on, but I'll quit here unless someone wants me to elaborate. I always seem to have more to say than anyone else, and if people don't want to hear it, there's really no reason for me to babble on.


Jennifer Macaire | 59 comments I thought you gave a good critique of the story. I liked the main character, and thought she developed nicely. Her relationship with Leon is certainly a love story, thus romance, but it doesn't take over the story, which is more about St Mary's. We don't really find out what the whole thing is about - the series is quite long, and it gets more complicated. (But I thought this was a cracking introduction to the series.) It's always hard to introduce a series - the first book has to make you connect with the main characters and the plot has to leave you wanting to read more.


message 45: by Ned (new)

Ned Huston | 36 comments I doubt if I'm going to read the series, but I enjoyed this first book.


Tingletangle | 5 comments Ned wrote: "Year before last, I read a bad novel (titled THE CIRCLE) and decided to see if I could learn a lesson about writing from it since I wasn't getting anything else out of it. The characters were terri..."

The same for me. I had issues with a couple of things, but I liked the characters and the underlying idea of historians going back in time. I felt the book unrealistically made one project happen after another - eg. why does Max have to go on another time trip when her body has not healed yet, and I think in reality project preparation does take much longer. Furthermore, I doubt that historians would step so much out of their speciality as to deal with very remote periods/places in history. But still, I enjoyed the read.


message 47: by Dean (last edited Jan 19, 2018 01:19PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Dean | 155 comments Ned, I enjoyed reading your thoughts (good babbling!) ,and agree with much you have to say. I have a confession to make; I ended up finishing the book. After putting it down for a day or two I decided I was so close to the end that I may as well finish it (despite New Year resolutions not to waste time with books i'm not enjoying..). Still, it was a short book, so it only took another day or so. It didn't get any better for me, but i'm glad I finished all the same.

I can see why people enjoyed it, and feel my score is rather harsh, but it was how I felt at the time. For the first few chapters I thought it was going to be an okay, light-hearted read, and for me probably 3 stars. But then things started grating...

Sometimes it's hard to put your finger on exactly why a character doesn't work for you, but as Ned says, it's true that so much is tied up in finding the main character likable or relatable. The book i'm reading now smashes it on that account. I 'get' the main character, and despite being a fast-paced thriller, there is a lot of (mostly subtle) humour in it which feels more natural and is more up my street, as it doesn't feel forced.

I agree that as a time-travel book, there are just too many holes, even within the world created on the pages, and I think that probably frustrated me a lot more than most others too.


message 48: by Mike (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike Mullen | 3 comments I liked this overall but I didn't love it. I was fine with Max as a character, but I would have been perfectly happy for her not foreshadow things quite so often. I also felt the last section was a bit rushed, but then again with so many more books in the series I suppose it makes sense. So yes a decent read and will probably read the next one to see how things develop, but I'm not in any great hurry.


Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 427 comments I am getting through this one slowly-I think chapter 6, so I am avoiding reading this thread too much to avoid spoilers.

This is a fun read, but does not have many twists and turns (or paradoxes), in it like I crave in my time travel stories. maybe that is to come still?


message 50: by Isa (new) - added it

Isa Briarwood I've only read the first chapter so far and it's ok. I'm not uninterested, but I'm not won over by what I've read so far. I'll try to find time to really get into it this weekend.

And Ned, why didn't you like THE CIRCLE? I really enjoyed that novel! I thought the premise was a frightening possible reality for our future. That company seemed sort of like Amazon, and now Amazon is kind of taking over just like the Circle did. Although admittedly Amazon is my favorite store and I can't really be impartial about them. :)


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