Book Two in the madcap time-travel series based at the St Mary's Institute of Historical Research that seems to be everyone's cup of tea. In the second book in the Chronicles of St Mary's series, Max and the team visit Victorian London in search of Jack the Ripper, witness the murder of Archbishop Thomas A Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, and discover that dodos make a grockling noise when eating cucumber sandwiches. But they must also confront an enemy intent on destroying St Mary's - an enemy willing, if necessary, to destroy History itself to do it.
©2013 Jodi Taylor (P)2014 Audible Studios
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"Enjoyed This Second St Mary's Time Travel Book"
After finishing the first book in this series I went ahead and bought the second. The second novel is a bit episodic, but because of the nature of potential time travel paradoxes the various plot lines all come together in a maddening but entertaining conclusion.
Based in the near future UK, St Mary's Time Travel institution, has a number of traditions, one of which is that a Historian (time traveling variety) gets to choose his or her last jump into the past before their retirement. In this case Maxwell, with her friend Kal Black, have set out to visit the London of Jack the Ripper on the night that Mary Kelly is mutilated and killed. Black is retiring from active duty. That night has a most surprising conclusion. But it's not by any means the conclusion of the book.
It's not a soft and fluffy book although at points I thought it was quite funny. It also has some pathos (that's where one star disappeared because I thought that particular character was a bit of a red shirt, although the author may redeem herself later considering how convoluted time travel plots can be.) There is also some sheer horror.
The narrator is, as I thought with regard to the first book, excellent. I'm hoping that she will also be reading the third book when it comes out on Audible.
I did wonder if the dodo birds were a nod to Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels.
I also bought the third novel on Kindle although it was not yet out on Audible. I would definitely suggest that these books be read in order. Now I'm jonesing for the fourth book.
"Witty and fun"
Fun time travel
Max of course. I love her sense of humor and wit. She's a lovable smart ass.
Yes, very much
Yes, but I did save the last hour for when I got home from work.
The author and narrator together tell a really entertaining story. The quick pace is a relief. We don't have to listen to tedious descriptions of a month long research team. It's just research this before we go on our mission, then... We jumped to the past.
"Trying to Wait Patiently for the Next One !!!!"
I loved the twist on time travel and the eccentricities of St. Mary's. But probably the most remarkable is that the heroine is not hour glass shaped and has to work at being fit - as most of us do. She gets messy, panicked, makes mistakes and feels occasionally hopeless as we all do. But -- she has the chance to fix it. Give this series a listen to - or two... very entertaining as well as addicting!
"Great time travel sci fi"
I'm sure I will. I'm going to read the whole series again, after I read the next two volumes.
Mrs. Partridge, aka History (Goddess of). She's one of those Deus ex machina characters that always shows up at the right time and does what you want her to do.
I haven't read the books in print, but I can't imagine anyone doing a better job with the narration.
Too many moments to pick one. The characters are even more interesting (and complicated) in this book than in the first one.
I love science fiction and particularly love time travel. This series is the best sci fi of this genre I have read in years and I read it all. Witty, sharp, laugh-out-loud funny. Great characters, wonderful concepts, well-executed.
"Read this series! Delightful and original"
Another fantastic book in the Chronicles of St. Mary's series! Max and the gang at St. Mary's get into all kinds of trouble again in book two. There's something special about this series that I just can't quite put my finger on. I love the richly drawn characters, the narration, the action, the absurdity and the humor. It's fresh and original and absolutely delightful. I enjoy every minute spent reading (or listening) to these books. Narrator Zara Ramm does an excellent job of bringing Max and these books to life. You can't go wrong whether you read them in print or listen to them on audio (or both, like I do). Read them in order or you won't do them justice, but definitely read them!
"Fast Paced Story with Humor"
My favorite thing about this series is the protagonist - Max (a female). She is smart, fearless, and has a sense of humor. I like her a lot.
I also like the use of time travel to visit different eras. It keeps the stories interesting.
The author tells a briskly paced, complex story that includes some laugh out loud funny moments.
Zara Ramm's narration is excellent.
There are more books in this series and they are on my "Wish List".
"A little disjointed, but satisfying"
Zara Ramm is fantastic, and she kept me interested in a book that I might have gotten frustrated with otherwise. It's important to note that this is essentially three books (short ones) in one, brought together with no unifying plot line except casting. Characters in this book feel as though they're there on a timeline that was arranged by their managers, leaving halfway through the season for another gig or just making a guest appearance. The saving grace is that it is actually quite interesting - there are genuine moments of suspense and humor, and what history made it in was compelling and satisfying reading. I love discovering a series when I have more volumes to look forward to, and this was good enough that I'm excited to go on to the next book in the series.
"A great heroine, much hilarious satire"
The heroine is both a leader but able to see the absurdities of the working world
I hope Jodi Taylor continues with this series , and Audible l keeps recording them!
Zara Ramm could read Webster's Dictionary and I'd happily listen. She has a warmth and lilt to her voice that are perfect for a book that has sardonic and whimsical undertones. Good thing too, this book needed some redeeming graces.
This is the second book in the series and relies heavily on the fact that the listener has already heard book one. Too much is left unexplained for this to be a standalone book. The storyline (as is true in the first book also) relies heavily on mini-episodes all strung loosely together in one overall plot. The two plot arcs (rocky romance and a rogue time traveler) come across as background frameworks from which the individual scenarios hang. Once you realize this and don't try to have one episode lead to or explain the next one, it's easier to relax and get into the book.
The heroine is definitely a mixed bag. She is an understanding and charismatic leader when put in charge. And then she becomes a churlish and destructive young woman when she's crossed by her would-be boyfriend. The two sides of her personality are so extreme that they were hard to reconcile.
I will get the next book in this series because Zara Ramm is just that good.
"Lovely addition "
It's more of the same kind of fun from the same fabulous people you have been reading about already. Why not keep it up? Love The series.
Some of my recent listens haven't had quite enough pace for me.... not so with this book. It cracks along at full tilt. So much going on that I got lost occasionally (I'm blaming my previous slower listens where I could let my attention wander without consequence. Nod off here, and you'll certainly miss something!)
This is pure entertainment from start to finish - even the car destruction scene made me grin.
I'm really enjoying the characters in this. And even learning a little about history too - I assume some of it is based on real occurrences....
Narration is exactly right.
Will be downloading the next instalment shortly.
"Despite jumping through time, nothing much happens"
The concept is great, but there is never any sense of real tension. It's like these novels were written for those with a nervous disposition.
The characters leap through situations that in other books would have had much more tension and time spent in those scenarios.
Its all just a bit too easy.
"But, listen and repeat again and again!"
I listen to the Chronicles of St Mary's A LOT! They make me chuckle and take me to a comforting 'other world' which I love to belong to. Each one also has a part or two that brings tears to my eyes... Jodi Taylor really knows how to express every emotion. I also now have a better picture of history and a clear timeline of it in my head. For the first time ever I'm actually interested in battles and kings and queens which, until the fabulous Max appeared, have always been presented to me as boring and complicated. Zara Ramm is a star narrator. I introduced these to a friend in book form, I think she read one a day until she had read them all. More St Mary's books please!
"Even more enjoyable than the first book!"
The narration by Zara Ramm is exceptionally good and has put her at the top of my favourite narrators list.
I find these books similar in enjoyability to the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series from Ben Aaronovitch.
All the characters are easily discernable from one another and I think she captures the dry humour of the books perfectly.
I laughed out loud in quite a few places while listening to this book.
I really enjoyed listening to this second book in the Chronicles of St Mary's series narrated by Zara Ramm. I really love her narration and feel that it adds a lot to the enjoyability of the book. I didn't feel the need to fast forward sections of this book as opposed to the first where I did, and because of this I would definitely say that I found this book more enjoyable than the first. Despite being desperate to cash in my audible credit immediately to purchase the third book, I am holding fire and waiting to receive it from my library as I want to try actually READING one of the series as opposed to LISTENING to it to see if that changes my enjoyment of it in any way.
Frankly, I don't think it will. The writing and storylines are just exceptionally good and right up my literary alley. The characters are all so well written that I really find myself caring about all the characters, from the major players to the background ones mentioned in passing. I'm secretly delighted there are so many left in the series (all of which were available to reserve :o) ) and can't wait to binge read them all!! I've already downloaded the free mini .5 stories that are available on audible to listen to at the appropriate points.
I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys funny contemporary writing, time travel and historical fiction. If you like the books by Ben Aaronovitch you will love these!
"Jack the Ripper, hell yes"
I really enjoyed this book in the series, especially the Jack the Ripper part.
If you want something funny and entertaining to read this series is perfect.
The narrator of these books is brilliant, I really enjoy her performance.
"Great fun ripping yarn"
I am hooked on this series. Light, funny ripping yarns with a female Indianna Jones/Bridget Jones doing Famous Five but travelling in time. It's all just good old fashioned fun. Love it
"The plot thickens!"
Really enjoyed it. Another great book in the St. Mary's series.
Excellent follow up to Another Damned Thing. Continues with the story of St. Mary's and their time travelling exploits.
Loved the 16th century plot line with Mary Queen of Scots.
Yes definitely. Did it in 3 or 4 sessions whilst driving.
Great story, great writing and beautifully narrated.
"Just Brilliant - What a Ride!"
Got this in a 2 for 1 sale & what a bargain it was. I listened to it in a day & straight away bought the next one. Cannot praise this series enough. If you like Sci - Fi with humour this is for you.
The very English very eccentric St Marys is a place I loved immediately, this is not Dr Who this is time travel with a whole new slant. I really don't want to spoil anything for anyone but one thing that struck me and I really liked was there wasn't the traditional beginning, middle & end of this story it goes, setting the scene, adventure, conclusion, adventure, conclusion and so on. I love the detail in the descriptions of everything, you really can imagine it.
The narrators voice is just right for the lead character and really brings it to life. Cannot recommend enough. Working my way through the series now and it gets better and better.
"Better than the first book"
I enjoyed this - the story, writing and narration was better than the first book, which had a good premise but flagged a little for me. Just enough to encourage me to get the second and I am glad I did! In fact I actually went straight to get the third after reading the second...
I've grown to quite like the way the story seems to be in episode format as it means when very tired and busy I don't have to concentrate on a long, complicated storyline - there is an ongoing story with decent character development but the characters have various adventures within this, that are quite self-contained, so easy to follow.
Gentle, enjoyable entertainment, with no saucy bits in this one - hurray.
"A darker St Mary's emerges"
The first book in The Chronicles of St Mary's, "Just One Damn Thing After Another" was a triumph of originality, introducing us to the world of intrepid, if chaotic, British historians risking their lives to witness past events first hand.
Chronologically, "A Symphony of Echoes" carries straight on from where the first book left off but the tone of the second book is quite different and, sadly, not quite as satisfying.
This is a darker book than its predecessor. There is less games-playing and amusingly clever trickery and more killing and death.
In this novel, Max, the plucky if unstable woman the first book followed from Trainee to Historian, has become part of management and shows an allegiance to St. Mary's that borders on the fanatical. Under her leadership it becomes clear that although St. Mary's appears to be an institution filled with eccentric individuals who muddle through while creating madcap mayhem, it is actually capable of being ruthless, even murderous. Its enemies are hacked to pieces, shot in the back, abducted and executed. It is even willing to go to great lengths to throw a woman in harms way to ensure that the "right" historical path, the one that protects St. Mary's, is taken.
I found myself thinking that this was a St Mary's that I would not be inclined to support.
"A Symphony of Echoes" shares many of the same strengths as its predecessor: it is witty, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and it is depicts bravery and loyalty in a way that made me want to be brave and loyal. Whereas the first book read as a novel, with a beginning, a middle and an end, this book abandons that structure and is the worse for it. "A Symphony of Echoes" is literally a chronicle, a record of important events in the order in which they occurred. It is a picaresque piece, following whatever happens to Max, without imposing any deeper narrative thrust or emotional or intellectual leitmotiv. While each episode was well described, I found the lack of unity frustrating.
I also found that some of emotional trauma Max was pushes through seemed contrived and distorted.
"A Symphony of Echoes" is still a good read, but unless the third book returns closer to the form of the first, "The Chronicles of St. Mary's" and I will part company.
By the way, the title refers to another definition of history: "History is a symphony of echoes heard and unheard. It is a poem with events as verses. Charles Angoff"
I'm hoping that this novel has some echoes I haven't heard yet and which the third book will make clear.
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