Review of KINDLE Ebook A Second Chance – Book 3 of The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor

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While still not feeling all that well, I dived into this one for a bit of fun and escapism…

St Mary’s is back and nothing is going right for Max. Once again, it’s just one damned thing after another. The action jumps from an encounter with a mirror-stealing Isaac Newton to the bloody battlefield at Agincourt. Discover how a simple fact-finding assignment to witness the ancient and murderous cheese- rolling ceremony in Gloucester can result in CBC – concussion by cheese. The long awaited jump to Bronze Age Troy ends in personal catastrophe for Max and just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse – it’s back to the Cretaceous Period again to confront an old enemy who has nothing to lose. So, make the tea, grab the chocolate biscuits, settle back and discover exactly why the entire history department has painted itself blue …

As you may have gathered from the blurb, in parts this book is laugh-aloud hilarious – what isn’t quite so obvious is that in other places it is heart-breakingly sad. What it never does is stand still. Taylor writes with a frenetic energy that pulls me into her story, holds me there – and when I’m finally flung out at the other side, I’m dizzily certain that I’ll never feel quite the same again. Even though this is the third time I’ve been smacked around the chops by Max and the St Mary’s gang, it is still an onslaught as much as an adventure.

As the blurb mentions, the historical trips are still going strong and Max, along with the rest of the disaster-magnets that make up St Mary’s history department, fling themselves into each time-travelling adventure with reckless enthusiasm. Taylor could have so easily opted to make these books straight comedic adventures – she certainly writes humour with verve and skill that has me sniggering aloud all the way through. But what, for me, elevates all these books, are the interludes where Max is dealt a lethal blow to prevent her from fully enjoying her life. Despite her love for the job and St Mary’s, she is to be denied personal happiness alongside a special someone. I know I was feeling poorly, but even if I’d been bouncing with health, I think I would have still wept.

I blew my nose, blinked away the tears so I could continue reading – it’s hard to focus on the print when you’re bawling like a fallen toddler – and just as I was settling down to rejig my expectations and read something instead a whole lot more sombre than I’d initially intended – a thing happens which once again transforms the mood and tenor of the story.

I’ve been reading avidly for over fifty years and during that time, I’ve learnt that the majority of books follow certain rhythms. But Jodi Taylor ignores those precepts and instead, mixes it all up quite outrageously. Furthermore, she gets away with it. I’ve been thinking about this one a lot since I read it. It won’t be long before the fourth book, A Trail Through Time, will be summoning me back to St. Mary’s. I just need another box of tissues, more emotional energy and then once more, I’ll be good to go. In the meantime, if you crave a real roller-coaster ride through Time, track down the first book in the series – Just One Damned Thing After Another – I can guarantee that you won’t have read anything else quite like it.
9/10

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15 responses »

    • Oh yes, I think Taylor is very special. She certainly has a way of evoking my emotions – and while I am moved from time to time, I don’t often cry like that over a book. Himself wept too…

  1. Great review of a fantastic book. I think this is possibly my favourite of all the books I’ve read in this series. It does occasionally feel a bit disjointed but the section in Troy was just so incredible and emotional I think I ended up 5 starring it. I really need to pick up the more recent books as it’s been too long since I’ve spent time with Max & co.

    Hope you feel better.

    • Thank you, Ali. Yes… I know what you mean about the disjointed – she certainly takes the reader from one extreme to the other very quickly, doesn’t she? But I think she’s a remarkable writer.

  2. I read One Damned Thing After Another just recently and you have described my experience of that book perfectly in your review. I enjoyed the roller coaster ride but I have not yet been brave enough to take on book 2!

  3. I remember your previous reviews, and even though time-traveling is not really my thing, who knows? Maybe one day, lured by your reviews, I’ll pick up these books.

    • She is a remarkable writer – I don’t know anyone else who writes quite like her. It’s rather a choppy style, but she can regularly make me both laugh and cry in the same chapter. That doesn’t happen all that often these days.

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