Just One Damned Thing After Another

The Chronicles of St Mary's, Book 1
Narrated by: Zara Ramm
Series: The Chronicles of St Mary's, Book 1
Length: 9 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (7,579 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"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....

©2013 Jodi Taylor (P)2014 Audible Studios

What listeners say about Just One Damned Thing After Another

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Action Adventure Time Travel Novel w/ Good Reader

In case this bothers a reader: this is a first person point of view story. It also contains some (brief) sex and adult language. Probably I wouldn't have even thought about either factor except someone had rated it as one star because it wasn't CLEAN enough. I really hate that term applied to books, unless someone if referring to the condition of the pages rather than the content. The setting is the UK at some near future point in time.

Any way, the heroine, a woman who has completed her doctorate in history, is recruited by an old teacher who once at a pivotal moment in her life provided guidance, into a time travel project. There's lots of action and adventure as she has to cope not just with being sent back to dangerous time periods, but also with problems from the future.

People who enjoy Connie Willis' time travel books or Kage Bakers novels of the Company might enjoy at least this first book. It's complete in itself although it is part of a series. It's also science fiction rather than romance.

I would also point out that despite the enthusiasm of what I assume are fans, that Taylor hasn't yet reached the skill level of the other authors I have mentioned. If it were possible to give half stars I would give the story 3.5 stars. On at least two occasions the author dumps a load of information on the reader rather than feeding it bit by bit. Luckily the narrator, who I do not think I've encountered before, was able to wend her way through it. I'm not sure how I would have reacted had I been reading the print version at those points-- probably put it down for a while. But I'm sure I would have gone back because I've developed a bit of soft spot for the heroine.

265 people found this helpful

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Does what it says on the tin

This was a moderately enjoyable read. I must admit that it made my historian's heart beat a little bit faster to read about historians living and exploring historical events. However, the characters in the story never really came alive for me. Motivations and personalities never really seemed to gel and when I finished the book I still felt like I didn't know anyone in the book, not even the protagonist. I prefer character-driven stories, and this was very much action-oriented. Not bad, but not really my cup of tea, either. I also had difficulty understanding the time span of this book. What I thought had been a few months had actually been five years and I wonder if I wasn't paying attention or if the passage of time was really glossed over. That said, the story held my interest, even with little nitpicky criticisms I had about plot points, and I don't regret the purchase. However, it isn't likely I'll pick up Book 2 in this series.

Zara Ramm did a good job narrating the book. While she did do accents, she didn't give characters distinctive voices. That, in addition to the aforementioned issues I had with characterization, plus the occasional nickname bandied about, made it difficult for me to tell some characters apart from one another.

This is a fun read, but I would only recommend it to people who want to enjoy a little bit of bubble gum reading.

124 people found this helpful

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Lightweight imitation of Connie Willis

After listening to the compelling stories and narration of Connie Willis' time traveling historians, I couldn't get into this flippant imitation.

10 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

Would you try another book from Jodi Taylor and/or Zara Ramm?

No.

What was most disappointing about Jodi Taylor’s story?

There was hardly any time travel. The description made it sound like there would be a lot (which is why I purchased it) but the majority of the book focused on the relationships between the characters.

What three words best describe Zara Ramm’s performance?

It was okay.

9 people found this helpful

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Adventures in Time Travel!

I know there are folks who buy a book because of its cover. I got this one because of its title--I just couldn't resist it! Besides, time travel is 'in' right now and often can be very entertaining.

Over all, I found the story enjoyable and a fun read. The heroine is surprisingly able and competent to handle herself in difficult situations and to save the day for her colleagues. I found this a bit incongruous with the narrator's particular British accent, in that I just could not imagine someone who talked like that punching someone in the face or being rough and tough enough to carry the story. Yet, Max was just that kind of heroine. I guess you just can't judge a book by its accent!

In contrast to a previous reviewer, I enjoyed this book much more than Connie Willis' two World War II time travel books, which I found very unsatisfying and frustrating. Jodi Tayor's character, Max, has actual relationships with other characters and all these characters are more developed. I found Max's adventures in time travel into the past much more engaging. The Willis books, while expertly researched, were pure drudgery for me.

If you love time travel books and are happy with a very British sounding heroine, this book will be a fun read for you. Go for it!

89 people found this helpful

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One Disjointed Story Line After Another

I tried this book because of all the favorable reviews here on audible and all the positive comparisons to Connie Willis' collection of books. I have enjoyed the the first two books in Willis' time travel series very much and hoped for more along that genre with this series. That was not to be. To me, this book had tons of potential--but in the end the story was too light weight, the action jumped around too much and the characters became blurred and vague.

At first, I liked the narration as Hamm's voice was pleasant--but as the reading progressed everything started sounding the same. Flat and monotone --no matter what action was occurring at the time. I agree with another reviewer that it felt like a long string of TV episodes. In the end it wasn't enough to hold my interest. I gave up due to sheer boredom. Can't recommend.

80 people found this helpful

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Plot had great promise

Any additional comments?

This book was a terrible disappointment. The general concept behind the story really excited me. It could have been fabulous if not for the way it was written. The sarcastic main character is annoying and shallow. All the characters are shallow. This is the sort of book that Hollywood might turn into a fast paced action thriller focused on special effects. If thats your thing, than you might like this book. The narration was fine but couldn't overcome the lack of depth to the story.

31 people found this helpful

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Less than expected

I had high hopes for this book, but it's far less interesting than its premise. If, like me, you're interested in the idea of somebody being able to explore historical periods, this is NOT a book for you. Though the characters travel back in time, we don't actually get any interaction with historical figures or even much description of the times or places. There is a lot of silly Adventure Story plot, but very little about time travel or English history.

Worse still, the protagonist is annoying, and her character doesn't make sense. She's supposed to be a PhD in History, but she acts like a simpering and rather foolish teenager, even though she's a grown woman and, so we are told, a gifted scholar. A lot of the characters' interactions are straight out of a YA story about a high school for magical time-traveling teens, but, again, we are supposed to believe these are all intelligent adults. Zara Ramm's reading is perfectly competent, but the character is so annoying I found myself disliking her performance.
I suggest skipping this one.

29 people found this helpful

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A female thriller for all listeners

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, maybe not for everyone, but certainly fans of scifi/thrillers with a serious comedic spin. Taylor writes in an almost stream of concious manner, and Zara Ramm brings authenticity and wonderful humour to the narration.
There is just enough adult themes to temper the humour, and although it does require a bit of a stretched belief model, I do recommend it.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Max ( our hero ) is difficult not to cheer for, and engages us all the way. The bad guys are not very well crafted, at least in this first book of what I hope is a long series.

What about Zara Ramm’s performance did you like?

Everything. She sparkles. Humour, drama, authenticity, and consistency. What's not to like?

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I am not creative enough to get this one nailed.

Any additional comments?

This is the first of what promises to be a classic series of funny/serious/scifi time travel thrillers, in classic British style. There is a slight "chick lit" aspect to the offering, but it is highly enjoyable for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and have downloaded the sequel already. Highly recommended.

62 people found this helpful

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I need to find my St. Mary's

I adore the heroine; Max is a great character and the character validates me. I only wish that all plucky, smart, flawed women could find their own St. Mary's in which to blossom. I enjoyed the whole thing and the narrator is wonderful.

I do hope there is a Volume Three coming.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Charlotte Hobbs
  • 03-30-19

Oh Dear

Plus side? The narrator did a good enough job with what she was given.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting anything spectacular, but at least a fun romp through various periods of history. I gave up on about chapter 7 (I think? The main character is about to go see some dinosaurs). I'm going to give my reasons why, so beware that there are spoilers ahead:
1) There's remarkably little time travel for a book about, y'know, secret time travelling historians. Her first trip was 14 days of nothing on a mountain that could have been literally any time, anywhere. A bunch of other trips were entirely glossed over, and the only one that was described in any detail was a World War, which is the most overdone time-travel scenario in the genre.
2) For a specialist in ancient/classical history, the main character hasn't used this specialty once, and is somehow the best suited character to lead a trip to the Jurassic era. The lack of any major detail just makes me feel like the author doesn't feel like researching anything.
3) Speaking of time: it's remarkably unclear how much time is passing. It's mentioned at one point that she's been in Saint Mary's for 4 years - I honestly thought she'd only just finished her training. The lack of development of any of that time is surreal...
4) But matching with everything else. The side-characters are mostly uninspiring. Protagonist who consistently talks about how average she is whilst everyone admires her incessantly? Check. Love interest with dark backstory? Check. Evil woman who competes for the affections of the love interest? Check (Bonus points for his entire family dying and the cartoonishly evil ex-wife, who abandoned him/their kids, only for him to discover the children aren't his as they're dying). Smattering of interchangeable bffs? Check. A few other men who range between smarmy and sexually threatening? Check.
5) The lack of characterisation from the protagonist, Max, is especially egregious. It's mentioned as the book goes on that people try to talk to her but she's always drunk/absent minded/away -- I genuinely can't remember her being described as getting that pissed (she seems to mostly fall asleep in the bath whilst researching), and frankly that sounds like an alcohol problem that you probably don't want for a time-travelling historical agent, y'know. That's representative as well: stuff is just randomly brought up that we've never actually encountered as readers/listeners that we're supposed to take as gospel truth...
I could go on. Suffice to say - if you value books that are well written, I'd steer clear.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-04-16

Disappointing

A great premise, utterly ruined by an immature writing style that favours pace over character development and in-world consistency.

It would have been better as a YA novel with the removal of the endless crass alcohol and sexual references. I'm no prude but this just seemed like a cynical attempt to make it an 'adult' story and was jarring alongside the fantastical historical elements that drew me to the book.

Early in the story it's established that 'History' (some nebulous entity with no attempt at an explanation) won't allow timelines and events to be disrupted... and from then on all the characters do is lay waste to this principle (guns in ancient Egypt anyone?) with weakly justified motives.

Chuck in some Dr Who-esque* 'timey-wimey' hand-waving with not even an attempt at justification, a central relationship that it's hard to care about because the characters are so one-dimensional, and a lot of supposedly witty dialogue which borders on the monotonous... and I won't be buying the numerous sequels!

I finished the book because I always do, but this one was not for me.


*At least Dr Who attempts some explanation, convoluted as it usually is, so that suspension of disbelief can be somewhat achieved.

17 people found this helpful

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  • al
  • 12-02-14

Fantastic and fasinating romp through time

Would you consider the audio edition of Just One Damned Thing After Another to be better than the print version?

A fantastic and engaging performance.

What other book might you compare Just One Damned Thing After Another to, and why?

I'm a great fan of time travel adventures such as Arthur C Clarke's Time Odessy and Doctor who. This book brought an unusual but somewhat comfortable and very British feel to time travel.

What does Zara Ramm bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I enjoyed the portrayal of the characters set out buy the tones and warmth of Zara Ramm's voice. The performance really brought the book to life.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

A very British romp through time, with tea.

Any additional comments?

Extremely enjoyable - give it a try!

15 people found this helpful

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  • Tuppence
  • 06-19-15

New Author

Would you consider the audio edition of Just One Damned Thing After Another to be better than the print version?

I have never read any of these books before, I found them brilliant. I love the character and it is narrated so well.

Many thanks

What did you like best about this story?

The character of Max is great.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I think the charge of dinosaur alley was the best visually described scene

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

bringing history to life for all

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mike
  • 06-01-14

Good British Chaps win the day by muddling through

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was that St. Mary's, both the institution and the people who give their lives to it, are quintessentially English in the way that they muddle through from one crisis to the next. They break the rules when the rules are silly or even when they're just inconvenient. They are chaotic to the point of recklessness, irreverent and prone to inappropriate humour, they're driven by a passion to do the right thing, they stumble over the simple day-to-day aspects of life, they are emotionally inarticulate, deeply loyal, keep their heads in a crisis, move TOWARDS the gunfire and do what needs to be done to make a bad situation better and, no matter how battered or beaten they are, if someone asks how they're doing the answers is always "I'm perfectly fine. Apart from a few cuts, scratches, a broken arm and a mild concussion. Nothing to worry about."

Of course, the English aren't REALLY like this, but they'd like to be. They're probably the ONLY ONES who'd like to be. Which is where the charm and the emotional impact of this book lies. It gets inside this mindset and helps you fall in love with it. If you're NOT going to fall in love with it, you won't make it to the end of the book. If you do fall in love with it, then, like me, you'll be buying the second book in the series pronto.

I am, of course, aware that this is a most improper review. I should have started by saying how this is about plucky time travelling historians from a near-future England, who, working in secret, find out what really happened in key historical events by the simple expedient of turning up, taking notes and trying not to get killed. I should have described the struggle between the good guys from St. Mary's and the bad guys who started in St. Mary's but didn't stay because they were the wrong sort: serious, power-hungry, organized and with no sense of humour at all. I should have commented on how well Jodi Taylor writes the historical scenes set behind the lines in the Battle of the Somme and gives a remarkably effective pen sketch of what it was like to be an unarmed civilian on the receiving end of a cavalry charged by the 15th Hussars in the Peterloo Massacre in 1819.

Instead, I rushed on to the bits I found most important. Perhaps the spirit of St. Mary's is infectious. I hope so.

This is the book I was hoping for when I bought Connie Willis' "Blackout" and "All Clear" novels (which I didn't manage to finish - so disappointing after her wonderful "Doomsday Book").

Part of what makes the madcap Englishness of St Mary's so appealing is that it is seen through the eyes of Madeleine Maxwell, "Max", a brilliant and brave woman who also has "damaged misfit" written all the way through her like "Brighton" in a bar of rock. Max is insightful and brave and dedicated and also distracted, socially inept, emotionally withdrawn, constantly in trouble with authority and ceaselessly, ravenously curious.

She is a well drawn character who makes the whole novel credible. Her relationships, her actions in the face of disaster, her breakdowns and her triumphs humanize what could otherwise have felt like a description of a slightly smug boy's club.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to meet the English as they ought to be.

By the way, the attitude to History (which of course has a capital H) is also very British. The title of the book is actually the definition offered by the influential British historian, Arnold Toynbee: "It's just one damned thing after another."

123 people found this helpful

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  • happy loon
  • 06-12-15

fast paced... a bit bonkers..and a lot of fun!

I enjoyed this even though as the title suggested things just kept going wrong for the intended hard working people of St Mary's.
just downloaded book 2 and the free 2.5 one. action packed and interesting range of characters. something very different for me but I really enjoyed it...now...must get on with the next book!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon customer
  • 12-28-14

Odd mix, jumping around but will buy the next book

What did you like best about Just One Damned Thing After Another? What did you like least?

I liked the voice of the author showing as one liners which came through the story.

The sex scene was unexpected, I'm not a prude but the car was full of my family, and I'm a bloke.

Would you recommend Just One Damned Thing After Another to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes, as a series of short stories.

What three words best describe Zara Ramm’s performance?

Need more words. Zara carried the voice of the author very well. I assumed she was the author.

Was Just One Damned Thing After Another worth the listening time?

Yes, if you have lots of 30 minute journeys in the car. this is not a long story, but lots of shorts.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Melanie Preston Lewis
  • 05-23-15

wonderful

a wonderful, quirky, typically English story. Lovely, likeable characters and a fun filled, action packed, if only it were true plot. Excellent pace keeps the listener interested from start to finish. Narrator was superb. I will definitely be reading more from this author

7 people found this helpful

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  • Jane
  • 11-24-16

Time to collect the t

Any additional comments?

This reminded me of Angelmaker and The Girl With All The Gifts, which is definitely not a bad thing. Dystopia, alternative history, gobby protagonist. All good. It's a pacy gallop from mediaeval times to the First World War to the world of the T. rex and then off to Alexandria. It's definitely a "one more chapter before I go to sleep/work/clean up" story. Time travel which isn't time travel, historians armed with manure powered flamethrowers and characters drawn clearly, with humour and who have something of a history are fun. I think I'll be gathering more of this series soon.

6 people found this helpful

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  • M Hannon
  • 10-04-16

A good idea, ruined. Teen fiction written badly.

What disappointed you about Just One Damned Thing After Another?

Takes a great idea (time travel) and manages to do it very badly indeed. Sociopathic, self-centred, one-dimensional characters. No wit or humour. No plot development or cleverness. Ironically, a seeming contempt for the science and engineering elements of time-travel. Needs serious editing and some help from someone who knows funny.

Would you ever listen to anything by Jodi Taylor again?

Probably not.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Zara Ramm?

To inject some humour - Brian Blessed.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not really.

Any additional comments?

This is my first and, hopefully my last, negative review! :-)

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kaz
  • 06-25-16

Comic and very novel (no pun intended)

My immediate impressions were: "Very English" from the acerbic flow of the revealed thoughts of the characters and their conversations, to the very dry humour and the unorthodox institution of a St Mary's. Personally I loved it, but have to wonder whether it would appeal to a non-English audience.

The other significant enjoyment factor was the total novelty of the storyline premise. I can't recall ever reading a story quite like this one, so I would certainly applaud Jodi Taylor's imagination as well as the way she drew the plot together. Well done and thank you.

Finally Zara Ramm's narration was perfect for the characters. She modulated well to indicate the different roles, but kept it clipped enough to represent the story in its best light.

6 people found this helpful

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  • DarkFish
  • 05-31-16

More Please! A great time-travelling story

This is the first book in a lovely light series of books about the time-travelling historians of St Mary's. Funny and well written with some great and memorable characters.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David M.
  • 04-03-17

A little trite

Well narrated but I found the story a little inconsistent. the main subject was a bit childish, acting like a student, when she was obviously mature. That being said I will read the second one, so it can't be all bad. :)

1 person found this helpful

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  • Adelaide Swinhoe
  • 05-30-20

next! quick!

couldn't stop listening. Finished it to quickly. So freaking awesome. I want to listen to the next one right now!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-28-20

Just One Dammed Thing After Another.

Loved it all! I loved the story - fast moving and keeps your attention. Dry humour lightens the story. The reader was excellent.

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  • Chelsea Baker
  • 02-23-20

Brilliant 🤩

Loved every minute! Made my time at work fly as I listened to this story.

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  • David Button
  • 08-23-19

Great Story

Great story, main character. just takes everything in her stride.
narrator was really excellent .

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  • Kristie
  • 06-13-19

Brilliant

Thoroughly enjoyable. Brilliant world building, fantastic characters and excellent plot. wonderfully narrated. highly recommend. Can't wait to listen to the next book

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  • Thomas Blackman-Bishop
  • 06-06-19

A Damned Good Read

I've been looking for a pulpy adventure story for years now and this scratched that itch.
daring heists, exciting chases, sex, violence, romance, this story has it all. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger and so I could not put it down.

that said, like so many stories, this one suffers from "too many endings" and I was expecting the story to be over at the half way, third quarter way, and six eight way through. And some of the themes got way darker than I was expecting from a book do funny.

Overall I couldn't be happier. Very similar to the early Thursday Next novels and other such nerdy, comedic, action thrillers. my only fear is that this ongoing story will turn the same was as Ffordes novels.

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  • Katy
  • 02-08-18

potential for great storyline

after a very promising start, the middle part of the book gets a little bogged down, introducing too many characters before the main characters have been fully developed. so thereby the listener gets a bit lost and the narrator does not distinguish enough between male/female tones.
by the end things are becoming clearer and the stage is set for a long running series. it has potential so i will listen to book two and hope to be interested enough to keep me going on with the rest of the series.