If you're looking for a comprehensive book about Photoshop Elements or digital photography editing in general, i.e., the technology or architecture of digital cameras, software, printing, workflow ideas, raw vs. jpg, examination of tools and what they can do, etc., this book isn't for you. If you are new to Elements and look at the editing screen on your monitor as though the layout is as incomprehensible as sitting in the cockpit of a Stealth Bomber and looking at the instrumention for the first time, this book isn't for you either. But if you want to get some 'neat' ideas about workarounds, clever techniques, 'meta-photographic' capabilities--meaning using elements not so much as a replacement for the old photo darkroom, but as software that can synthesize images, text, 3-D effects, and what you might think of as 'cool stuff' you'll probably like this book a lot.
I'm not all that into manipulating elements to give the interior of a cathedral the impression of divine lights emanating from the alter or for taking a 'vintage-like' image so that it appears to sit inside a sealed jar by using some layering methods so that you can create the concept of 'memories preserved' (I'm not kidding-it's one of the tutorials). However,there are enough interesting tutorials that you can modify once you've learned them to broaden what you can do with elements. This book offers instructions that go beyond the basics such as improving over- or underexposure, basic cropping, sharpening, desaturating, and all the other basic stuff you should know after a couple of weeks (or months) of using elements.
In terms of an educational tool, the book is well-composed with good illustrations, clear explanations, and easy to follow steps for each of the techniques the authors demonstrate. It also comes with a companion disc, and gives you resources (add-ons) that you can use to enhance your basic elements menu. I think the best thing about the book is that it can serve to get your own creativity going--not so much by imitating the authors, but by understanding that you can make your own 'quantum leaps' that are the stuff that becomes 'art.' In other words, by showing you some of the authors' leaps, you might be encouraged to make your own. That may be why I don't like the title 'How to Cheat...." Imagine Steven Speilberg writing about his cinematography and calling it 'How to Cheat in feature filmmaking'. The other part of the title 'Release your Imagination' is more to the point. But it assumes you have imagination to release. Otherwise, the suggestion could be a bit frustrating like the joke about the angry theater director that yells at his actors, "Be spontaneous!" I do think the authors have the right idea about the niche this book serves and are able to fill it. Since I'm writing this during the entertaining media circus of the Republican candidacy for President, I've been more aware of the importance of statements in molding a "brand." I'd have reversed the phrases in the title and put the "Release" part first.
I've used about six or seven elements books, and have gone through dozens and dozens of on-line tutorials. I'd say this book could be placed in a pretty high percentile in terms of the value and effectiveness of its presentation, although by no means does it get a perfect score. It might not help you boost your abilities to rate among the M.I.T. elements users (or full Photoshop users), but it will definitely raise your talents, so that you won't have to settle for open admissions level creativity.