I always liked the approach Cay S. Horstmann takes in the examples in his Core Java books. He tries to follow good practices in all his examples which includes better naming convention, documentation and comments, identifying right classes. This book, Core Java Volume-2, is no different. You find examples which are in themselves mini applications. You dont find toy programs which illustrate the feature and do some printing on the console. Instead the examples themselves include different concepts across Java.
There are very interesting topics covered in this book like: Streams and Files, XML processing, JDBC, Network Programming, Scripting and Annotations, Security, JNI, Advanced Swing and AWT. I see that few chapters which were originally in Volume-2 have been moved to volume-1 namely multi-threading and collections. I see a very exhaustive coverage on Swing and AWT, what I feel missing is the coverage of JavaFX features for which I think a chapter would suffice. Not to forget this book covers the Java 7 features as well. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=FFFFFF&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=experieunlimi-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&asins=013708160X
Otherwise this book covers lot of stuff and I would recommend to use it as a reference to pick chapters as and when you want to explore those features. Reading end-to-end may not be necessary because most likely we would not be using all of those features in one place together. Reading end-to-end might be an overkill as well owing to the number of pages.
Bottom line: Highly recommend book in your bookshelf of Java references.
Note: this book was review on behalf of Coderanch.