In my opinion, a good book must have a good balance between theory and practice.
There are some "cookbooks" that show you quickly how to build something with some technology without explaining the background very well. I don't like that, because when I learn a new techology I don't just want to follow steps, I want to get an overview as well. I don't just want to learn the how, I also want to learn the why.
There are also other books that go into the details very much but don't explain very well how to use a technology in practice. I also don't like that - with such I book I do get a good overview, but I still can't easily use it because I have to find out all the details of how to set up a project and start working myself.
I have a few of Manning's "... in Action" books. Some of those are more in the first category, for example "Hibernate in Action". The first few chapters consist mainly of instructions for building an example application, but it doesn't explain in sufficient detail what the steps mean exactly, so if you're new to Hibernate you don't really know what you're doing if you're just following the steps.
I'm currently reading "OSGi in Action" which is much better. It's not just "do this, do that", it explains the background in a very good and structured way, along with good examples. Unfortunately setting up a build environment for OSGi projects isn't described in detail, there's only a brief overview of different ways to do this in an appendix. It would have been better if there had been a more in-depth chapter in the book about that.