I just got in a copy of Understanding Basic Japanese Grammar, published by ALC, the same people that published Nihongo Journal. 200+ Pages. I thought I would do a little mini-review for everyone. I bought my copy through JBox.com and with standard shipping had it in 3 weeks.
First off, the book is pretty squarely aimed at someone taking the JLPT 3 (like me). It is not a JLPT prep book, but the content presumes knowledge of hiragana and katakana and elementary kanji (with furigana).
The book quickly introduces simple verb sentences and adjectives, but does not spend much time on them. Quickly particles are introduced, and connecting adjectives and the like are covered.
Coverage of topics is minimal, with an English explanation and several sample sentences of the concept in Japanese and English. Translations are quite good, if literal, allowing you to deconstruct the Japanese sentence quite easily & get the concept being explained. Personally, I really liked the approach, as the English introductions are very well written and explain the concept at hand quite well.
As I said, the book is not a JLPT prep book, nor is it a textbook. It is more of a supplemental text to augment your Japanese studies. A high level beginner (I would say a minimum of 1 class year of study) to intermediate learner would benefit greatly from this book, especially if grammar is a sticky point for you. Plus, at $18, it’s a steal. Trust me.
Part One: Fundamental Structures of Japanese Sentences
Part Two: Introduction to Different Forms of the Verb
Part Three: Expressions Using Different Forms of the Verb
Part Four: Grammatical Items
Part Five: Grammar Points
Part Six: Complex Structures