• Alex Hui

BOOK REVIEW: Ramón Riobóo’s Second Thoughts

Updated: May 14


REVIEW PHILOSOPHY


When I review a product, I’d like to judge the product by itself alone. I will try to put myself into readers’ shoes and give the most honest review. 


If the product is good, I say it out loud. At the same time, if there is bad about the product, I don’t hesitate to say it. 


I believe by giving you the most transparent information, you will have better knowledge to judge. 


Helping my readers is my biggest goal with this review.


WHAT YOU GET


You get a 356-page 6" x 9" hardbound book with 115 clear black&white pictures.


The pictures are well selected to aid the explanation. 


The book comes with full-color dust jacket.


QUALITY OF THE BOOK


The book is well written with a nice format which is easy to follow. 


It prints with nice quality paper. If you own Ramón's previous book ’Thinking the Impossible', you will be delighted to find that it feels thicker and nicer in hands.


HOW MANY TRICKS? WHAT ARE THEY? 


Number of Tricks: 42

Number of Tricks Need Table: 35

Number of Tricks Done in Hands: 7 

Number of Memorized Deck Tricks: 3

Number of Moves: 3

Number of Principles: 3 + many introduced in the tricks

Number of Articles about Theory: 6


QUALITY OF THE TRICKS


The book is purely a card book. There is not even a single non-card trick. 

Ramón Riobóo’s card material contains a lot of mathematical principles and psychological subtleties. In other words, you won’t find exciting new card move or difficult sleight-of-hand magic in the book. 


Some readers may avoid ‘mathematics’ in their magic, but as Mr. Riobóo explained in the first article in the book, there is nothing wrong with mathematics, as long as it makes the tricks more magical.


In fact, many of the tricks in the book doesn’t look like ‘mathematical tricks’ at all. They are skillfully structured and look more magical than many sleight-of-hand tricks.

The quality of a book often depend on number of ’surprise’ in it. Namely, how many nice & better combination of known materials (moves, plot, presentation etc), and new & worthy material. 


This book comes with both! Many effects look totally impossible to the most intelligent onlookers. I was constantly surprised by the cleverness of the material as I went through the book. 


For some effects, I even fooled myself when I was following the instruction. 

Besides ’self-working’ tricks, the book contains some tricks involving memorized deck and special cards. 


RATING OF TRICKS


I usually rate a trick based on several factors: 

  1. Practical of Effect

  2. Effectiveness (how magical the effect is)

  3. Creativity 

Sometimes, even I rate a trick (5/10), that doesn’t mean it is a bad trick. Maybe I just think the method is not particularly new or interesting. The effect may still be ok.


And even if an effect was very magical and creative in execution, I wouldn’t give high rating if it involves a lot of procedures or easy to mess up. This book comes with a few.


As a general guideline, a trick rated 7 or above is good. A rating of 9-10 guarantees a great trick (even if you don’t do it, it contains a lot of new things you can learn). 


I will try to give a reason if I rate an effect low score. I hope this will give you a better idea of my reasoning. 


The Good-Old Crimp

My Spelling System (9/10)

The Gene Finnell Free-Cut Principle

The Injog Cut Control

My Bottom Palm (7/10)

(Article) What the Ruses are About

The Optical Cutting Deception (9/10)

Strategy for Ascertaining One Card of Three (3/10): Not too original and it’s not too convincing

Dribble and Packet Replacements (10/10)

My Packet-Turnover Shuffle (9/10)

My System for Showing Blue and Red Backs (10/10)

Cut, Shuffle and Restore (8/10)


<Self-Working Tricks>

(Article) Reflecting on Our Magic (9/10)

An Adjusted Prediction (8/10)

Klondike Poker (10/10)

Impossible Dribble (8/10)

Shy or Showoff (7/10)

Nuclear Weapons (5/10): Too many procedures. It’s not too good even with interesting presentation.

The Twenty-first and Whatever (7/10)

Signed Card from Packet to Packet (10/10)

The Whispering Card (7/10)

Heart and Fortune (9/10)

Saint Rita and the Zodiac (7/10)

Cards That Manifest Themselves (8/10)

Fair Value (8/10)

21st Century 21 Card Trick (8/10)

More Piles and Total Freedom (8/10)

Free Cut, Spell and Reinhard (9/10)


<Tricks with Stacks and Setups>

(Article) Magician, Method and Effect (9/10)

The Prophecy of Absent Magician (5/10): This involves ‘Miraskill’ principle. But I don’t see much magic in this trick. 

Controlling Chaos (9/10)

Mysterious Divination (10/10)

Same Number for Three (10/10)

Grand Telepathy for Five (6/10): A simple alteration of the trick can make it much stronger. But a much indirect approach was chosen, which I don’t like.

Double Allerton (7/10)

Divination through Another’s Touch (8/10)

A Magic Card and a Magic Number (6/10): The setup is too obvious and not well hidden.

Divine and Locate (9/10)

The Bad-Luck Card (8/10)

A Taste for the Ladies (9/10)


<New Sleights and New Systems>

(Article) Magic and Knowledge (8/10)

The Underground Stop (6/10)

The Rioboo Lapping Technique (8/10)

Back-Color Transposition (7/10)

Impossible Prediction (6/10): A similar effect can be achieved easily instead of using a sleight which is not done by many.

The Black-Hole Principle (10/10) 

I Always Miss. So I Never Miss (10/10)

Mr. Galasso and the Black Hole (10/10)

Touch and Telepathy (8/10)

The Principle of Inverted Compensation (9/10)

The Roulette Deck (7/10)

Swindle Deal for Three (7/10)


<Tricks with Preparation, Extra Cards or Sleight-of-Hand>

(Article) Difficult, Improbable and Impossible (9/10)

The Stapled Card, without Jokers (8/10)

Two Cards and Two Envelopes  (8/10)

Black Widow (6/10): I prefer a non extra card approach. 

Prophecy, Value and Suit (7/10)

A Quick Trip (7/10)


<Tricks with Special Cards>

(Article) Seen, Noticed, Suspected (9/10)

Double Magic Trup (9/10)

Out of Touch (10/10) 

Premonition and Divination (6/10): Heavy gimmick (but readily available) deck is used

Guaranteed Premonition (6/10): Heavy gimmick (but readily available) deck is used


PROS ABOUT THE BOOK


  1. It is well written. Very easy to read.

  2. Tons of very clever material. You will be delighted by the number of clever applications and unknown principles.

  3. Detailed analysis of the effects at the end of explanation. This gives the reader better understanding of the effects. 

  4. Most effects are easy enough for beginners.

  5. Almost all effects are foolers (even to magicians).


CONS ABOUT THE BOOK


  1. Some tricks look very similar. 

  2. Many tricks involve card dealing. But it doesn’t mean they all look mathematical in nature. I point this out because some performers just don’t like dealing cards.


FINAL VERDICT


Ramón Riobóo’s Second Thoughts is a sophisticated book. 


Though many of the effects are easy enough for beginners, it doesn’t mean it is for beginners. 


It’s like Sonata in classical music, which music knowledge will make the listening experience more enjoyable; people with considerable card knowledge will appreciate the book much more than an ordinary curious person does.


There are very few similar books on the market which can guarantee an intellectual journey with readers. But this book can do it, and did it perfectly. 


I’ve already picked up some material immediately because they are very magical and clever. 

Some people may dislike the fact that the effects are not direct enough. People may ask ‘why would you separate the card into piles in order to select a card?’ 


But the fact that non-direct selection process is not confined to some tricks in this book. As magicians, we always have to live with the procedures of tricks. How to make the procedures relevant often defines how good the performer is. So, if you only read and do visual magic, this is not a book for you.


The book also provides a lot of ‘ingredient’ to you for making your own good magic. 

I foresee that I will re-visit the book many times in future just to get inspiration.


I will recommend this book for any serious student of magic, and all card magic lovers. 

I hope you will enjoy this intellectual journey as much as I do. 


  • Book Quality: 8/10

  • Effectiveness of Tricks: 9/10 

  • Practical: 8.5-9/10 

  • Creativity: 10/10

  • Cost Performance: 9/10 

  • Final Score: 9/10


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ONE MORE THING


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If you would like to read/watch more in-depth reviews, please follow her Instagram for some nice magic performance 

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She is working to become a better magician. You help is much valuable to her! 

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You are welcome to ask any question about the book. 


Thank you for reading this review. Hope the review helpful to you all. 


See you next time!

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