First off: I was very experienced in no-knead breads even before buying this book. I write a bread blog (breadland dot blogspot dot com) and have been experimenting with this method for almost a year, using many types of flours, shapes of breads, combinations of refrigeration, freezing, etc. You can find out a lot about no-knead breads online, which is great.
And take it from me: no-knead bread is INCREDIBLE! It was eye-opening to me, and believe me, I love to make breads the traditional way, kneading by hand if and when I have the time. But the airy, open texture, the hard, crisp crusts, the well-developed, almost sourdough flavour of no-knead bread was truly a revelation.
But I found I was looking for a book which would lay out a whole bunch of no-knead recipes, nice and easy, without having to search the Internet or make up my own formula, which might or might not work. This book does that.
I chose 200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads over Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and another one called Baking Artisan Bread, by Ciril Hitz, which is the same no-knead idea, and also includes a video, because this book seemed to offer more genuine recipes, not just reworkings and different shapes of the same dough. Also, it's less expensive than a few of the alternatives, probably because it's a paperback, and that's okay with me.
There is still a time and place for kneaded breads (by hand or machine) in the cook's repertoire, but since I'm usually cooking in a hurry for my family of six, this technique and my big "dough bucket" have saved me tons of time - and with this book, I can keep saving time while flipping through recipes to discover new and exciting favourites.
I'm not sorry I bought this book: it covers the basics and lots more, including sourdough, sweet doughs, long-risen doughs and more. There is a nice variety of technique, some of which is more labour-intensive than you might associate with the term "no-knead." The author clearly knows her bread.
However, one thing I enjoy in a cookbook is a sense of the author's personality, and this book is almost totally lacking in that area. The recipes are laid out professionally, with tips and hints and nothing is LACKING, but it doesn't give the sense that the author really, truly loves bread, the way some bread books I have read really do (try Bread: A Bakers' Book, by Jeffrey Hamelman if you want that, but the recipes in there take FOREVER!).
I would perhaps have felt more impassioned if there more illustrations of how to form the different shapes of loaves, but in most cases, there's just a description. Particularly when she's talking about how to form the complex "epi de blé" loaf shape, a diagram would have been helpful, and even for the more ordinary shapes like boule, baguette or batard, this is one area I knew ahead of time that this book would be lacking.
(Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day contains many nice photos so you can see how you're doing throughout the process - however, the first edition also contained many errors, another reason I avoided buying that book, despite corrections at the authors' website.)
One slightly annoying touch is the repeated - ad nauseum - use of the word ARTISAN. Everything is artisan: the recipes, the "extras" at the end of the book. Find a new word, everybody: ARTISAN = DULL.
I also quickly got annoyed at the repeated reference - on every single recipe! - to the use of Canadian flour. I use Canadian flour; I know it's different. When I'm not feeling lazy, I compensate accordingly, end of story. A single reminder at the beginning of the book would probably suffice - not 200 reminders throughout the book; especially when there are two recipes side by side, it sometimes looks like she's just trying to fill up the pages. But maybe not; maybe they're just trying to be helpful.
Like I said, the book is nicely laid out, and I haven't found any flaws in the recipes, so it's really a very good introduction to no-knead baking, if a less-than-passionate one (the other books, particularly Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, read a bit like the authors have discovered a new religion and are eager to share it with the world!).
In short, despite colour illustrations (in the centre, not with the recipes) this is not a book to drool over. It is a no-nonsense book to open to the right page, read the recipe, mix the recipe, and boom - you're done. Easy bread, just as it says on the cover. So I don't regret buying this book, and you might not either, as long as you're clear about what you're looking for.
If you want photographs, diagrams, hand-holding, or just pure, foodie passion for bread, you're going to have to look elsewhere. If you want an inexpensive, helpful (less-expensive) guide to begin your journey into the fascinating (and delicious) world of no-knead breads, this may well be the book you "knead."