I bought this book with the hopes of supplementing my small library of tarot books. If this had been my first book on tarot, perhaps my feelings would be different about it. In my opinion, Sarah Bartlett presents both good and bad material, but enough bad that I'm fairly disappointed.
First, what I don't like.
1) The card descriptions, being the meat of the book, have barely more content then the LWBs (little white books) for most decks. Cards are given one brief paragraph of general description, then two or three paragraphs of what the card would mean if it appears in certain spread positions. Example, for Rider-Waite-Smith's The Empress: "If you draw this card in a 'future outcome' position, you can be assured of progress in any plan, however daunting it may seem." It is very formulistic, almost the sorts of descriptions you would expect to hear from a quack tarot reader on TV.
2) The author ignores reversals, and forces her readers/students to do so as well. She does go into brief detail about how reversals are used (that the card is "blocked" or the energy is undeveloped, etc). However, she then goes on to explain why she personally doesn't use reversed cards, how "the rich symbolism of the upright cards will tell you what is lacking..." This would be an acceptable statement to make if tarot symbolism was actually covered within the book. Unfortunately, the work falls on your shoulders to decipher the symbolism through intuition and guesswork, with little to no guidance on her part.
A note here: I understand that using reversed cards is a highly controversial topic among readers. I personally don't utilize reversals myself, due to doing exactly what Bartlett suggests. Yet I study extensively and have used reversals in the past. My gripe with her method is how she ignores the option completely (even encourages you to turn any reversed cards around in a reading), which I feel would hurt a new student to tarot.
3) The only deck covered extensively in this book is RWS. There are reviews covering a few other decks, but all other information given is based on RWS. For a work claiming to be "definitive," the omission of other decks is bothersome and limiting.
Now, what I do like about this book.
1) There is a nice collection of spreads, which are broken into categories of Everyday, Relationship, Revelation, and Destiny. Each spread also has an example reading and how the author would interpret it.
2) Some basic information is listed about astrology, numerology, crystals, colors, kaballah, and meditation techniques. All of this can be found for free online, but it's a nice option to have it all in one volume.
3) Decent size, layout, and print quality. Not your typical black-and-white-on-cheap-newsprint book. Everything is in full color and a nice resolution so you can really see the cards. The small size (5.5 inches by 6.5 inches) makes it easy to carry in a purse while remaining discrete.
Overall, I get the strong feeling that this book is slanted at potential women tarot readers who are put off by plain-looking (but better written) tarot books found on store shelves. For new tarot students, as long as this book is purchased as a companion to a meatier, albeit drier work (such as Rachel Pollack's Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom ), this is good for taking with you for readings away from home as you get familiar with the cards. As a stand-alone source of information, this will barely get your feet wet.