We are using this for our fast paced French refresher course through PCC's continuing education foreign language program. Though I recommend this as a good French text, it is laid out oddly. First, the dialogue is at the beginning of each chapter. These dialogues contain words which are probably unfamiliar to most students until they actually read the section. It is quite confusing to try and pronounce or read these unfamiliar words. I know that the authors felt it better to have students 'try' and read it, then learn the words, then go back to it, but it just doesn't work all that well. Even the instructor has us skip the dialogue until after we work through the chapter it pertains to. Also, the quizzes at the end of each chapter are rudimentary at best.
Positives: there are charts at the end that contain many verb conjugations and lists of other important words. Each chapter is concise and gives the student ample material to work with while not overwhelming the student with endless lists. The paces is nice and the flow from chapter to chapter seems to follow a nice curve for actually learning the language, not learning a few phrases for travel. I would have liked more sentence building exercises, but for a $13 beginner to intermediate book, it covers a lot of material without getting too in depth.
I highly highly highly recommend the following purchases, even if the instructor does not require them.
French Grammar (Barron's Foreign Language Guides) - this is indispensable. This is the book which takes one from merely learning a few words and phrases to actually putting this all to use and building a good foundation for French speaking. It is inexpensive and worth 5x as much in my opinion. Only problem is that it is compact. But it packs in a TON of content and helps with sentence building.
Merriam-Webster's French-English Dictionary - amazing bang for the buck French - English dictionary. Has some charts in the beginning, including a useful conjugation chart. But has over 80,000 entries and 100,000 translations. Pretty amazing for $6 or $7. I have the paperback because I don't really want to lug a kindle to class.
These three books are perfect for getting started. Then you might try located a good CD resource. I don't recommend Rosetta Stone because of the exorbitant price (you gotta pay for all that marketing they do). Michel Thomas has a good course on CD that builds sentences, but at last look they were all 3rd party and cost $100+... not really worth it at that point. But if you come across it for a good price then buy it.
Also it sounds goofy, but check out some of the kids picture books (even for an adult). The ones that have the pictures with the French word and no English translation. You can buy four or five of these for $5-$10 each and they are basically what Rosetta Stone is. See a picture of something and learn the French word for it, not look at an English word and translate it. Get it? Oh, and grab a couple of workbooks that are highly rated for practice.
And also of note: the same holds true for other languages with the same publishers' items. I took Japanese and used Living Language, Barron's Grammar, and Webster's Dictionary along with some picture books and the Michel Thomas CDs and it was a breeze to learn with all of those useful tools. So even if it's Italian, Spanish, or another language, I expect these to be good items to purchase (in those respective languages).