A splendid and novel approach that takes the mystery out of a formerly time-consuming process.


A guidebook that introduces a quicker, easier, and more modern method to creating homemade sourdough bread.

Journalist and author Shepard expands on his former cookbook Simple Sourdough (2017) in this technique-driven guide that effectively simplifies making sourdough items with instructional recipes, tips, and tricks. His straightforward strategy is particularly notable in that it takes less than a day and doesn’t use a starter. The book is accessibly organized into sections covering the method’s various techniques. An opening chapter quickly dispels some common misconceptions about the sourdough process (such as what frothy starter bubbles really mean and the necessity of salt) and moves on to discuss the four basic ingredients one needs to create his version of a four-cycle sourdough. The author also examines and rates warming devices and proofing equipment for dexterity, reliability, and proven effectiveness in making quality bread, making the work a useful product guide. Shepard knowledgeably discusses salinity and aeration when starting a yeast cycle and proudly touts his revolutionary “no-waste” fermentation method; the use of modern temperature controls, he points out, can help one create a sourdough batch from fermented flour by adopting leavening principles used in larger bakeries. Easy-to-follow instructions emphasize the importance of quality ingredients, manual kneading, and the proper conditions for dough to ferment, rise, and bake properly. The author helpfully recognizes that his readers have many different preferences, so he provides useful chapters spotlighting how bakers can customize dough formation and taste variations based on loaf size, sourness level, and flavor diversifications; methods for rye, buckwheat, tomato basil, chocolate cherry, and other loaves are included as well as sections on bread bowls, pizza crusts, and pancakes. Any nagging questions that readers may have are succinctly addressed in an illuminating final chapter that tackles common bread-baking issues. The book is also generously illustrated with charts, illustrations, and photographs by the author. Overall, Shepard’s book will encourage home bakers of any skill level to embark on a new, quicker, and easier way to make their own bread.    

A splendid and novel approach that takes the mystery out of a formerly time-consuming process.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62035-610-4

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Shepard Publications

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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