January 30, 2007

The Baker's Apprentice

The Baker's Apprentice by Judith Ryan Hendricks
Contemporary Fiction
Finished on 1/22/07

Rating: 2.5/5 (Average)
From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge #5
2007 TBR Challenge #1

You would think by now I would know better than to get my hopes set too high for the sequel to a book, regardless of who the author is. But no, I still set myself up for disappointment time after time. It's always a bit more exciting to begin reading the sequel to a well-loved novel than simply picking up a new release or highly acclaimed book. With a sequel, you already have a connection to the characters and setting, as well as an admiration for the author's ability to entertain. But unfortunately a book is just a book and there's no guarantee that the follow-up will be as entertaining (or even as well-written) as its predecessor. For example, I loved Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas, but was terribly disappointed with Forever Odd. Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow is an incredible story and, like Odd Thomas, made my Top Ten for the year I read it. However, Russell's sequel (Children of God) failed to hold my interest and I struggled to finish, hoping it would get better the further along I read. Julie and Romeo Get Lucky is another sequel that left me longing for the humor and warmth I enjoyed in Julie and Romeo. Instead it only annoyed me with its silly and repetitious storyline. Bill Richardson's Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast is a delightfully hilarious book, but the sequel (Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast Pillow Book) fell short and wound up in the discard pile.

On the other hand, I loved The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and a Family just as much (if not more) than its predecessor, Fifty Acres and a Poodle. And, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street was just as lovely as 84, Charing Cross Road.

So, after reading Judith Hendricks' Bread Alone for the second time, I was excited to finally read The Baker's Apprentice. I had thoroughly enjoyed Bread Alone and was eager to see what the future held for Wynter, both as a bread baker at the Queen Street Bakery in Seattle and in her personal life with her new love interest. Unfortunately, this was a less-than-lackluster follow-up to Ms. Hendricks' debut novel. Bread Alone is a warm, cozy read full of wonderful descriptions about baking and life in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, the sequel is less about the goings-on in the bakery and more about the ups and downs of Wynter's love life (which quickly becomes plodding and predictable). I didn't care for the abrupt ending and wonder if the author wrote it in hopes of continuing further with these characters and storyline. Of her three novels, Isabel's Daughter (a stand-alone) is by far my favorite.

There are no guarantees when it comes to the enjoyment of a book, whether it's a stand-alone or a sequel (or a series, but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish!). So much depends one's mood, the timing of the read, or whether it's been over-hyped. I'll just continue to hope for the best and ignore that irritating little voice that so rudely reminds me that I'm bound to be disappointed.


  1. I've not read any of Hendricks books, but they sound good. I quite like reading a series if I like the characters, but usually not one right after the other. A book should read well alone so you could start the series anywhere and not rely on the past books. I know Booklogged praises the Odd Thomas series, but I haven't got to them yet either.

  2. Framed - I suggest starting off with Bread Alone and then move on to Isabel's Daughter.

    As far as reading a sequel back-to-back to the first novel, I think you might be on to something. I think the times I've been disappointed with the sequel was after re-reading the first book and then reading the sequel immediately after. Maybe I should space them out a bit.

    I plan to read the third in the Odd Thomas series. It's been a few months since I read Forever Odd, so maybe I'm ready for Brother Odd now. I highly recommend Odd Thomas. It's such a good story with a very likeable main character.

  3. Yes, the abrupt ending! It was as thought the author just decided that she was finished writing. I lack of resolution at the end of the first book didn't bother me but at the end of the second it really irked me.

  4. Sassymonkey - Have you read her latest? The Laws of Harmony is set in one of my favorite locations - Friday Harbor, which is on San Juan Island. If you enjoyed Bread Alone, I think you'd like this new one. Isabel's Daughter is also quite good.
    Here's my review for Laws of Harmony.


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