There are many ASP.NET 2.0 books on the market now, but they either come in two categories: The beginner who knows another server-side technology (ASP or PHP or even Java) or the advanced who wants to knows about web services or XML implementations or advanced web architecture. I have not found a book that is a solid intermediate ASP.NET 2.0 book on teaching the reader solid, real-life database applications, until now. This book fills in the gaps of so many other books out there on ASP.NET that it really should be the 2nd ASP.NET book you get. If you're already familiar with ASP.NET then this should be your first book. Because pretty much after you know how to use the basic controls and create some master pages and maybe some web parts you really know as much as the majority of the basic ASP.NET developer. This book by Thiru Thangarathinam really gives you a great understanding of "real-world" implementations of ASP.NET applications using any type of database.
Like any book, there always will be an introduction on the technology taught, so basically the first three chapters caters to refresh the reader on this technology. Chapter 1 introduces the ASP.NET 2.0 technology and terminology, the new data controls, how master pages work, and web parts framework. Chapter 2 is a very important chapter because it sets the stage for later chapters focusing on ADO.NET. You do not know how many books I have gone through trying to find a book with anything more than 20 pages on ADO.NET. It amazes me that no book (other than this one), really takes the time and explains this corroborating technology in detail when talking about ASP.NET. Yes, I have seen the pure ADO.NET books out there, but they put most of the explanation towards Windows forms, not web forms. I like how the author organizes the material and then further gives greater detail in other chapters (13 and 14). Chapter 3 introduces the reader to the updated data controls with some good detail on the advantages and disadvantages of using them, the new ObjectDataSource control, and how to incorporate the usual data-bound controls (GridView, DetailView and FormView) to them. A very good introduction to the basics.
The book (Chapter 4) then goes into using the SqlDataSource control (a good 35 pages) with topics like: Executing stored procedures and returning data, How to process return values from a stored procedure, How to handle null values, How to handle exceptions raised by the SqlDataSource control, How to detect conflict during updates, etc. Not to be overly praising this book, but I cannot remember one book that covered all these interesting topics before. Maybe I've seen this in two or three but not just one. A great chapter. The following chapter (5), the author reviews how to data bind XML data using the XmlDataSourceControl, how to filter the data, applying XSLT stylesheets, programmatically creating a XmlDataSource control, etc. A very thorough explanation of a control that is not talked about enough in other books.
One of the most interesting chapters of this book in my opinion is Chapter 6 which shows the basics (and much more) of data binding with objects. Instead of always depending on inline data source controls, you can create n-tier controls (though somewhat limited) and separate the code logic in separate classes. Though this chapter is semi-misleading because it still is talking about using a control (ObjectDataSource) in its examples. A better title would have been: Creating Object with the ObjectDataSource Control (or something like that). In any event, this chapter opens your eyes on one of the ways you can create some "real-world" development techniques.
The next two chapters (7 and 8) focus on making site wide changes to either your web pages (site navigation - SiteMapDataSource control) and how to modify existing controls like the GridView to create template columns and fields to unify your page look.
A great chapter that I automatically started reading right away was chapter 10 which focused on advanced data binding concepts such as creating a master/detail page (or parent/child), displaying selected rows in a GridView, creating custom templates in a GridView, using themes, using other controls (DropDownList) in a GridView, and extending the GridView. Lots of good stuff in this chapter that you will find on a bunch of websites or blogs or forums.
The last few chapters the author goes through creating a nice application (Rental Resevation System) and puts everything taught together. I think every book should have the last couple chapters of the book to put all the pieces together so the reader can get some ideas on how to use them in their own web applications. The code in the book is in C#, so for all you VB.NET developers you'll need to spend some time converting the code.
Apart from that this is an excellent book that teaches the reader how to really use ASP.NET 2.0 to its full potential and lots of tricks of the trade that would take you hours of searching online to find the answer. I highly recommend this book to any ASP.NET developer.