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Jinx

reviewed by McAig
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 07 December, 2009)

JinxThis is quite incredible value. You get an absolute ton of information, a lot of which is first-rate, it's an interesting read, it's a small piece of social history, it's searchable, and all for an extremely low price. I'm trying to be restrained here, but for me, this is the best download of the year, by a long, long, LONG way.


3 Miracles

reviewed by Carlos La Borde
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Wednesday 02 December, 2009)

3 MiraclesThis is easily the best purchase I have ever paid $25 for.

Impossible Switch is like something that I came up with, and has Unlimited mind reading potential, but Quarterforce takes the prize for the value of the book.

Absolutely fantastic card mind reading with the least amount of pumping out of any of the magic decks I have ever bought/made.

Highly recommended.


Bands of Gold

reviewed by Jamie Daws
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Saturday 07 November, 2009)

Bands of GoldBands of Gold :: Ben Harris :: 32 Pages

So, Ben Harris gets into rubber band magic. Surely it’s all been done before. Of course there’s Bands going through each other, rings on bands and all the other cliché rubber band classics. But what’s that? Ben likes cards FAR too much? Of course! Ban Harris’s Bands of Gold utilise a deck of cards as well as an elastic band (or bands) in some very cool ways. Never before in elastic band magic have I seen effects that use bands and cards simultaneously in this way. The opening trick in this gorgeous book is just cool. A mini bet in which 2 bands are shown around the card case width ways. One will win the spectator $100 and the other one will win the magician $100. One is selected by the spectator without equivoque. Of course it’s just a normal band. The other is removed and there is a $100 bill attached. Such a mini trick but so hard hitting. The best thing? It’s brilliantly clever. Very simple and uses some very old methods in band magic but in a completely new way.

A couple of effects follow suit and indeed use the same sort of principle. Sleight of Band. Another stunning effect and really can be imagined as a one trick download on one of these new polished sites. It’s just wicked. A band that’s wrapped around the deck lengthways rises up and down them deck. It begins wrapped around the whole deck. With a wave, it’s seen to jump up through the deck and now be wrapped around just half of the deck. It continues to jump up and down the deck in an incredible way. It really is an awesome trick. Rising card plots have been on the increase in recent years. But what better way to do it then with the elastic band. It’s fast growing to take over my normal rising card trick.

The final is one of he best in the book. A card visually slices through a rubber band and restores. It looks mad. Another one for the download generation. A great stand alone effect or in a routine. Of course every single one of the effects can be used as part of a routine and Ben gives credits and additional thoughts all the way through his book. As with every Ben Harris eBook of wonder, it’s beautifully laid out with lots of photos to help you along. This is one of his better “non cardy/ Card” books. Highly recommended!

“Ben’s Band Book is some of the best band and card magic ever. Some could be plucked out and used as single trick downloads. I was just sad that the book ended so soon. Highly recommended.”

***** 5/5 Stars

Jamie Daws


Horror Show Pro

reviewed by Nelson Oliver (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Wednesday 04 November, 2009)

Horror Show ProThis is a great give away! Jack did a great job on my software and it took no time at all to recieve it.

Nelson Bonedaddy entertainment


Singapore Lecture Notes

reviewed by Jamie Daws
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Friday 09 October, 2009)

Singapore Lecture NotesBen Harris:: Singapore Lecture Notes:: 34 Pages

Welcome to Ben Harris’s home learning lecture notes. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that lecture notes are relatively boring. They are usually a collection of effect that is usually just throwing away ideas. You perhaps find one or two interesting ideas but the rest is discarded. It’s hard to find a set of lecture notes that makes that little buzzy light in your head shine brightly. But, thank goodness, Singapore Lecture notes is a collection of truly insightful and workable effects.

Obviously, not every trick in this book is for everyone. But what I love about Singapore Lecture notes is that there is something to play with (something you do for your own amusement), Something workable( an effect I would use in my performances) and lastly something to develop (an effect in it’s starting phases that you can expand upon).

Firstly, after, again the user agreements and the many introductory pages, we are launched into the first effect. Now this is the one that’s just too much fun to keep playing with. It’s not terribly workable and not necessarily something you will use often, but it is just so cool to do and watch. It is a card revelation in which a very clever set up with an elastic band see’s four piles forming a pyramid and revealing a selected card. Again, not fantastically usable, I don’t think it’s supposed to be taken to seriously, but god, it really is fun to keep doing over and over again.

Swiftly floating onto a routine effect. Now, this is one that I have used and, occasionally, will use in the right situation. It’s an absolutely brilliant effect. It’s very simple to perform, but very clever in method. Unfortunately, it does require a set up of cards before the effect which isn’t overly easy to remember, but it really is worth it for the effect. There is so much going on and it is an absolute knock out to spectators. Now, Oil and Water Deluxe! I have written a complete review just on this effect and I cannot rate it enough. This is one of the tricks in the book that I will use forever and ever. It is by far the best and cleanest method for the oil and water plot. VERY clever and absolutely clean to the bone. Disinfectant couldn’t even make this cleaner. It’s a trick that uses no gimmicks, minimal sleight of hand and still makes you look like an absolute sleight of hand guru. There will never be a cleaner method to this plot and non better then Ben’s take on this gorgeous plot. This is worth the price of the whole book.

For you coin fanatics, there is a cool coin palm. However, not being a brilliant coin worker, it wasn’t for me. However, I’m confident many of you will enjoy this addition to your coin sleights.

Angel Aces is an effect (production) that I’ve come across before. Not knowing the original author, Ben Harris pops up again. This is a brilliant four ace production. Can be done from a mixed deck with some sleight tinkering along the way. Lots of flares and flashes to make the flashiest of card appearances. What I love about this is nothing is repetitive. Everything comes as an absolute surprise and looks truly magical. With the time and effort, you can get this looking really pretty and graceful. He even gives us a scan copy of the original literature in which he published this.

Next we are graced with a take on yet another classic plot of magic. The cannibal card plot. This is a really cute, quick and simple version of the plot using the four aces. This is another of the card effects in the book it’s really useful knowing. No set up required and just a seriously cute and compelling piece of magic. The three Card Game is a brilliant brilliant effect. So brilliant I’ve used the work brilliant four times! It uses a move by Paul Harris which is reasonably well known but briefly covered in the effect for those who don’t. The three card plot is another plot in magic that’s been covered a lot over the years. But although Ben’s version not being anything groundbreaking, is a really novel and slick handling.

The last effect in the book is probably one of the main ones for me. I absolutely loved it. A practical impromptu ending to a often gimmicked finally to the ambitious card plot. The deck is wrapped in rope. The selection is fairly placed in the centre. Without undoing the rope, the top card is pulled from under the rope and is the signed selection. This is absolutely wicked. Well, as long as you have a length of rope lying around. Of course, that can be alternated somewhat. There are many fairly expensive gimmicks for achieving the same effect and although you must destroy one card in your deck, it takes less than 10 seconds to create the gimmick and minutes to learn giving your time to perfect the handling and presentation. This is another that I will defiantly use often.

“Ben’s lecture notes are defiantly a collection of workable and usable effects. It’ bursting with fun ideas and bursting with brilliant takes of some of magic’s most well known magic plots. Defiantly one of the best set of lectures note’s I have.”

Rating:: ***** 5/5 stars

Reviewed by Jamie Daws


Sometimes the jokes are just for me

reviewed by Philemon Vanderbeck
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Friday 18 September, 2009)

Sometimes the jokes are just for mePayne is one of the great thinkings of magic, and if you ever get a chance to see him perform, don't miss it!

In this set of his "lecture notes," Payne explains his personal philosophy in creating a routine that takes it far beyond the normal piece of "prop magic," and turns it into a signature piece that meshes beautifully with ones persona and style.

By taking his theories and applying them to your own material, you will elevate your performance style from being "just another birthday party magician," to becoming a true performance artist.


Oil and Water Delux

reviewed by Jamie Daws
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Tuesday 01 September, 2009)

Oil and Water DeluxOil and Water Deluxe :: First Published in “Singapore Lecture Notes” in 1985 :: 18 Pages

So we see the return of another updated Ben Harris Miracle. I must say, I was genuinely excited about receiving this one. The classic plots of magic such as 'oil and water' have always intrigued me. Finding ways to update the originals of each effect, bring it up to date and make it the best possible handling for both spectator and magician. Oil and water is no exception. Over the years readying hundreds of books, lectures notes and watching just as many DVD’s and old video’s to find The BEST handling of the classic plot. Settling on Cameron Francis and Derren Brown’s versions as the one I used now.

So how does Ben Harris’ Deluxe Oil and Water compare?

It’s an absolute knock out! Before I continue with this review, I have to say, that this one is without a doubt my favourite “single trick” pdf from Ben so far. It really does everything an Oil and Water routine needs. For me, one of the most important things in an Oil and Water is that it looks simple and easy for the spectator to follow. This it does perfectly! What if I were to say that the spectator will begin by mixing the cards should you so wish... Then, by picking the stack up, displaying (with no funny moves) that they are STILL mixed and then still with no funny moves, show that they were separated, you’d think me mad? Well I’m not! This version of the classic really does live up to all the expectations I had hoped from an Oil and Water routine. What I also love about this routine is that the spectator can begin the trick by mixing them and then at the end, she can turn the mixed pile over to discover it’s unmixed state. There is only really one complex ‘Sleight’ in the routine. That being said, nearly any magician with basic knowledge of card magic can do this easily. Ben has also placed a conditioning open routine. Which is your basic ambitious card BUT, really settles your audience into what’s going to happen. Sometimes the smallest details are the most important. You do have to drag yourself though the opening pages of tittles and agreements but it is well worth it to get onto the actual trick. The effect is brilliantly well described and is deafly simple to perform. Everything about the routine screams ‘clean’. Most other routines use weird false count or card displacements. Sometime they even use extra cards or complicated set ups. This can be done from a shuffled deck. No set up. Spectator mixes them. No iffy or complicated counts or displacements.

The opening stage of the trick really caught me of guard. Do you remember when you were younger; getting a trick that was self working, like the Dynamic coins. When you slapped that brass cap on the table and that stack of coins appeared, it was not only magical but it was bloody confusing. Although you were following the instructions, you still couldn’t believe it worked. The same with this effect. I was following Ben’s instructions to a point which told me that the cards were separated and not mixed. I turned over the cards and sure enough, they were actually separated. Although, I was completely and utterly confused as to how that had happened.

In my honest opinion, This could be the ultimate in oil and water handlings. No complicated sleights or moves. Nothing looks suspicious. Simple and easy for the spectator to watch. Not long and drawn out. The spectator can begin the trick by mixing them AND can turn over the final pile to show they are separated. Clean, Clean, Clean.

Rating:: ***** 5/5 stars!

“A truly brilliant handling of one of magic’s most classic plots. Simple and easy to perform and possibly one of the cleanest versions you’re every likely to find! From a shuffled deck and a definite must for any card magician.”

Reviewed by Jamie Daws


Driven

reviewed by Jeff Prace
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 17 August, 2009)

DrivenThe Teaching:

This is a written e-book that you download onto your computer. Also, two videos are included which show Cameron performing Driven from the front, and then the back. With all three of those resources, you should have no problem learning this. There are also 19 photographs. Cameron is a great writer; he explains everything clearly with detail. The video instructions, which contain no words, help the teaching of the effect a lot. You should have this down in no time. But remember, practice makes perfect.

The Quality:

The e-book and video quality are very good. The photographs and video are clear. You can tell it was not made through a web-cam. It's better than most homemade productions I've seen, and I applaud Cameron for that. It's a step up from others.

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Intro: Cameron starts with a quick introduction to the pen through bill plot. He states what his is based off of and talks about other impromptu versions on the market. He also quickly tells how he came about creating this effect.

Phase 1: This is the phase in which you slam the point of the pencil straight through the bill. The method is very clever, and nothing like I've seen before. The nice thing about this is that you show the pencil going into the bill, no doubt, and with no fishy moves slam it right through. It looks great. You then pull the pen all the way through the bill and show the bill restored. All patter is given to you and there are photos to explain this phase.

Phase 2: This is the phase in which you place a pencil horizontally inside the folds of the dollar bill. You then magically saw the pencil through the sides. When you open up the bill, it's completely restored. This method is also very clever. They can actually see the pencil inside the bill, unlike other versions. Once again, there is a super large amount of photos and everything is very clear.

Alternate Handling for the First Phase: This is just something quick you can do to make the first penetration easier. It looks the exact same.

Notes: Cameron talks a little here about patter and angles. Some helpful advice.

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The Story:

One of my good friends knows how to perform the pencil through bill using the slit method. He's showed me it before. So once I practiced this and got it up to par, I showed him this. He was blown away. He literally grabbed the bill out of my hands, giving me more than one paper cut, and started examining the bill. He ripped the pencil from my hands, nothing to see. Let's just say he loved this!

Overall:

I really like this. I own Misled, but haven't performed it in the last few years. From now on, I'll probably just use this. I never liked using the gimmick, as sometimes I borrowed different colored pencils, and this just fits the bill. It's so practical it's unbelievable. With this, you will never be stuck with nothing to perform. Just borrow a pencil, borrow a bill, and perform. It couldn't get much easier. A solid 9.5/10.


Moment's Notice: Five Impromptu Card Effects

reviewed by Jeff Prace
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 17 August, 2009)

Moment's Notice: Five Impromptu Card EffectsElevation: In this effect, two 'special' cards are pulled from the deck and placed to the side. A spectator chooses any two cards. The two cards are lost in the center of the deck. The two special cards are shown to be the two black Jacks. With just a shake, the face up Jacks trap a face down card. That card is one of their selections! You explain the Jacks do much, much more. The selection is constantly placed in between the Jacks, and magically rises to the top. Also, the selection magically flips face up and face down in between the Jacks multiple times. The selection is then placed on the table. With just a snap, it turns into the other selection. The deck is spread and the other selection is found face up in the middle.

I've always liked the plot in which one selection changes to another, and then the first one somehow appears far away from where it once was. It's very magical in my mund, the two card transposition. I know a lot of transpositions, but this has turned out to be a very good one. Something I like about this is that the transposition seems to be an afterthought. The other magical events are the main trick. This way, I feel, the transposition is more magical. The method here is pretty easy to do. It will require basic knowledge of card sleights. This is a fantastic routine.

Spin Cycle: “The four Aces are removed from the pack and placed aside. A card is selected, say the Two of Hearts, and lost in the pack. The magician explains that the Aces will be able to identify the card through a strange procedure. One by one, the face down Ace turn face up. The last Ace to turn face up is the Ace of Hearts. This, the magician explains, means that the selected card was a Heart. The Ace of Hearts is placed aside. The spectator cuts the remaining face down Aces into the pack. The deck is cased and the spectator gives the box a spin. The cards are removed from the box and the deck is spread. The Aces are seen face up in the middle with one face down card between them: the Two of Hearts.”

I love the Hofzinser Ace Problem. Love it, love it, love it. I have created my own method, which I love to use. Although I am bias to that method, this one is also very good. I like the idea of using the box. It seems like you're making the trick sleight-of-hand proof, as you can't touch the cards. The magic happens on it's own. This way, you don't seem to just be someone who is handy with a pack of paste boards, but rather a real magician who can do real magic. That's an important idea to remember in all of my magic. So, this fits the bill. It's super cool and super magical. Once again, it's also pretty easy to do. I recommend you try this out, as it's a great solution to the Hofzinser Ace Problem.

Emergency!: “A card is selected and lost in the deck. To make his job of finding the card even more difficult, the magician turns half the deck face up and shuffles it into the face down half. Failing twice to find the card, the magician claims that all decks now come equipped with an Emergency button. The button is pressed, the deck is straightened and a previously indifferent card is now discovered to have transformed into the selection.”

Another favorite of mine, Triumph. I cannot think of a better card plot with such a great patter. I really like the additions to the patter Cameron added. It's not the basic “a young kid shuffled my deck wrong” but it's a comical solution. The idea of an 'Emergency button' reminds me a lot of the 'Reset button' in the standard Reset routine. I liked how he applied that to this effect. Onto the method. This is simply FREAKING AMAZINGLY AWESOME. I've performed a lot of Triumphs in my magic years, but this is one of the best I've seen. The secret move is brilliant. Although it's stated to be “bold” no one will ever catch it. The display is very clean; they really see half face up and half face down. Simply brilliant. This will be the last Triumph routine I perform. I love this.

Simply Amazing: “The four Aces are removed from the pack and placed to the magician's left. The spectator cuts the deck into four face down piles and then points to any one of them. The top four cards are removed from the freely chosen pile, shown to be indifferent and are placed face down on the spectator's hand. The Aces are fairly inserted face down into each pile. The piles are stacked one on top of the other and the deck is then turned face up. The deck in placed on top of the four face down indifferent cards which the spectator has been holding onto. The magician snaps his fingers and spreads through the deck. The Aces are nowhere to be found. The four face down cards at the back of the deck are turned over. They are now the four Aces!”

It sound more confusing than it really is. I actually really like this as well. I think the ending is a great, visually moment. There are also some great subtleties in this effect which really sell it. I think it's great because the spectator feels there is no possible way the magician could've switches the cards that they were holding, because there really isn't. Well there is… Anyway, this is super clean. The handling is easy, but again, will require basic card handling knowledge. I assume most of you guys already know this stuff. Another winner.

Flying Colors: In this effect, the magician removes four black cards, and four red cards. The two packets are separated. With a snap, the two packet of cards magically and invisibly change places. The spectator removes one card from each packet. With a snap, those two selected cards change places as well.

This is just not for me. I'm sure it's going to be for a lot of others, but not me. It's is a nice trick, and I can't really explain why it doesn't suit me. Because of that, I will jump into the method and handling. Everything, again, is easy to do. The method is very clean and clever. Some of the magic happens in the spectator's hands. Another nice part, the cards are not always handled by the magician, eliminating some possible solutions in the spectator's mind. A nice trick overall.

The Teaching: Everything is very well taught. There are step-by-step instructions. Also, there are 11 clear photographs that really help. Nothing to complain about.

Overall: There's not really much to say. The e-book is nicely made, all components of it. All of these effects are impromptu, hence the title, so they are very practical. All of the effects are amazing. A solid 9.5/10.


Something Else

reviewed by Jeff Prace
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 17 August, 2009)

Something ElseThe Unfolding: A spectator writes his initials on the back of a business card. The card is folded up into quarters and placed on the spectator's hand. The magician draws a magic wand on the back of another business card and claims he will use the wand to make the spectator's card vanish. The wand card is waved over the spectator's hand. Nothing seems to happen. When the spectator unfolds the business card, he discovers that he has the drawing of the wand. The magician turns over his card. The spectator's initials are on the back!

Although super simple, I think you will really like this one. It's very easy to understand, and brings sense to why two things transpose. Something that working magicians will really enjoy is that this instantly resets; so if you work table-to-table you should have no problem. A nice point about this, which solves something that always has bothered me, is that when you hand out the business card with the initials it's not bent or ripped. It's perfectly straight and professional. I never liked handing out a business card that's mutilated in some way. The difficulty on this one is very, very easy. In the simplest handling, there is only one sleight, one that everyone knows. Also, Cameron includes another handling, using a sleight that he teaches in detail. For exposure matters, I won't name it. I personally don't think it would add anything to the existing effect or method, but it's just an alternative that some people may enjoy more than the first. I like this.

The Magic Coin: The magician produces a coin purse and removes four different coins from it; in this case a penny, nickel, dime and quarter. The coins are placed in a row on the table. He then removes a folded business card from the purse which he says contains a prediction. The spectator selects a coin, say the nickel. The other three coins are placed back into the coin purse. The magician smiles and triumphantly states, “My prediction was correct!” He turns over the business card. On the other side it reads, YOU WILL CHOOSE THE MAGIC COIN. “And I was right,” he continues, “You did choose the magic coin!” The spectators look extremely underwhelmed. Sensing trouble, the magician says he can prove it. He opens the coin purse and drops the nickel into it. He then asks the spectator to shake the purse three times. The spectator is then asked to open the purse and dump out the contents. Four nickels clatter to the table. Everything may now be examined.

This is another winner in my opinion. I really love the suspense aspect of this routine. You take out the business card; the suspense is building. When you reveal the business card, it's just a gag. Makes the spectator laugh and feel more comfortable with the magic. A nice point in this routine is that when you dump out the four nickels, or whatever the chosen coin may be, there is absolutely nothing else inside the coin purse. Your hands are empty. Everything is examinable. There really is nothing to hide. It's a great position to be in at the end of a routine. The method is very clever. Stephen Tucker contributed some very nice touches making this routine even better. It does not instantly reset, but it is neither hard nor long to reset. It's another one of those routines that is not knuckle-busting. With a little practice, this should be in reach to almost every magician. Stephen Tucker also includes a bonus handling that allows for a cleaner selection of the coin and some more magic moments. Personally, I would stick with the original, but Stephen's is very nice. I like it.

Business Burn: The magician pulls out a stack of what he thinks are his business cards. it turns out the entire packet of cards is blank! Not to worry. With just a wave of his hand, the cards instantly and visually print! He then hands one to the perplexed spectator.

Just by looking at the name, I assume many of you will be able to tell where the inspiration for this effect came from. It works very on a very similar method to the marketed effect that you're thinking of. I do wonder, however, if Cameron added enough of a change to call this and market this as his own. Although he does give credit where it is needed, I still think it might be a little “iffy.” But let's forget about that right now and get on with the effect. What Cameron added to the method is very clever. Although there may be a simpler way to make the gimmick, Cameron's way works perfectly. It might sound a little complex at first, it did to me at least, but don't let that scare you away. This effect has a lot of potential. Once you make the gimmick, which isn't as hard as it may read, you'll be performing the effect in no time. It's very easy to perform, and takes little practice. But, as always, practice makes perfect, so practice until your hands bleed. This, like “The Unfolding” has an instant reset making it another winner for table-hopping magicians. I think it's a good idea to have an effect with a business card when you're working tables, I use an effect with the 'Out to Lunch' principle, because at the end you can give the business card away as a souvenir. But onto the worse parts. I do think there are better methods to print business cards. Michael Ammar teaches a few in his published material. You can use a variation of the 'Out to Lunch' principle. So, in the end, I think this effect is only okay.

Hold On: The magician removes an empty coin holder and has it examined. He then borrows a quarter. He places the quarter behind the holder and positions it so it looks as if it's inside the plastic. He gives it a rub. Suddenly, the coin is inside the coin holder. It is immediately handed to the spectator as a souvenir.

This is a pretty interesting effect. Let me start of by saying the coin can be, and I think should be, initialed or marked by the magician. Unless the spectator makes the mark you want them to, they cannot mark the coin. I don't think that's a big disadvantage if you mark the coin in a very casual manner. I think there may be some presentational issues with this. Why are you putting their coin inside a holder? The only reason I can think of is to “preserve” the memories of the magic shared. That works. The method is very simple yet again. Anyone can do it with little practice. And just saying, you do not lose any money when performing this effect, unless you use your own quarter and give them the souvenir. Speaking of souvenirs, this offers and interesting one. I think a lot of people would be interested in keeping such an interestingly interesting souvenir. How many times does a random person get a coin holder with their coin in it? Not a lot. So maybe this is better than a signed card. You do end dirty at the end of the effect, but that is not really an issue. The spectator will be gawking at their interestingly interesting souvenir. Again, instant reset, if you have enough prepared “objects” for the amount of times you want to perform. I like it.

Hold On Tighter: The magician borrows a coin and states, “This may look like an ordinary coin, but we're going to make it a very special coin in a moment.” The magician draws five ESP-type symbols on the backs of five different business cards. One is selected by the spectator. The magician looks into the spectator's eyes and draws something on the quarter with a marker. He turns the coin around. A triangle is drawn on its face! Claiming that the coin is now a bona-fide collector's item, he passes his hand in front of the coin. Suddenly, it is now stapled inside of a coin holder which may immediately handed back to the spectator!

This, in essence, is very similar to the effect above. The only thing added is the ESP symbols. So, I don't have too much more to say on this one. I like the ESP symbols because it adds another magic moment to the effect. The reveal of what you predicted is another stunner. I also like the fact that the coin being encased in a coin holder is a surprise, not the effect itself. I like this better than the effect above for those reasons. The one thing I can think of that I would change is to use actual ESP cards, instead of marking business cards with the symbols. I don't know why, I just think it adds a little more “class” to the routine. I like it.

All Things Being Equal: While performing magic for a highly appreciative audience at a restaurant, the magician reaches into the sugar caddy and removes a white sugar packet. He gives it a shake whereupon it visually transforms into a pink Sweet and Low packet. He places the Sweet and Low packet in his pocket. He repeats this three times and then asks the spectators what's under the packet, Sweet and Low or sugar? Whatever the response, the spectator reaches int o his pocket and pulls out… three blue packets of Equal!

Hmmm. I don't really know what to say about this effect. For one, I think it's overly complicated. There are unneeded things. You are palming something that doesn't need to be. You are using a sleight that should be replaced by a gimmick to make the effect cleaner, simpler, and easier. Although not the gimmick I had in mind, the gimmick used in “The Domino Effect” from the DVD AM/PM, which I reviewed HERE, would work perfectly. Though, a gimmick mainly used in coin magic would work as well. Other than those flaws, the routine is a nice one and I really like the kicker ending. The effect is good, but I don't like the method. So, in all, I don't like it.

Money Business: Business cards and coins transpose in an increasing impossible manner.

This is a good one. First business cards switch places and then coins do. It reminds me a lot of “Follow the Leader” from Daryl's three DVD set. But that is beside the point. This effect is very good. For one, it has an instant reset. I do not need to say, yet again, the advantages of that have. Two, this is very clean. The gimmick used makes the effect very clear; because of it only two business cards are used and only two coins are used during the effect. Also, everything is examinable before the effect starts which is another plus. Also, the effect gets increasingly impossible which is always a good thing. Right when the spectator thinks they know what will happen, something else does. It keeps them interested in the effect. Like many of the other effects in this e-book, this is very easy to perform and will require minimal practice. You should have this down pretty quickly. I like it.

The Signed Coin: The magician displays a small matchbox and says, “I'm going to show you something a bit odd. It's a matchbox with a quarter and a single match inside of it.” The magician slides open the matchbox. Inside is a quarter with a question mark on its face and a single match. “We'll just place this aside for now.” The open box is placed on a table (or on a spectator's hand). A spectator is asked to remove his pocket change. The magician takes a quarter from the spectator's pile of change and has another spectator initial the quarter. The initialed coin is placed back into the pile and the spectator gives it a few shakes. When he opens his hands and goes through the change, the signed coin has vanished! The magician then picks up the matchbox and dumps out the question mark quarter and the match. He uses the match to fairly turn the coin over. On the other side are the spectator's initials!

This is phenomenal. It's super magical, super impossible, and super cool. It looks so clean it's almost too fair. The effect is pretty easy to do, I think it will require a tad bit more practice than some of the others, but it's worth it. This has a quick reset and I plays huge. The moment when the coin is turned over is so magical and perfect. Not too much more to say. I like it.

Handful: In effect, you begin by showing your left fist. You ask the spectators to imagine that it is entirely encased in concrete, and to remember that the hand has been closed since the beginning of the trick. Now, from a pocket you produce a small square of paper and a marker pen. A spectator lends you a coin which they sign with the pen, before you fold it into the little paper packet (which takes some doing, as you are only using your right hand). A magical gesture and you unfold the packet – the coin has totally vanished. Turning to the spectators, you call attention to your left fist, which has been tightly closed all the way through. Slowly opening it, you reveal that sitting in your left palm, is a single coin, bearing the spectators mark. American 40 audiences scream until their lungs explode, and then scream from their kidneys. English audiences seem relatively unimpressed, but your mum says she likes it.

This effect, by Liam Montier, is super awesome. I really like the mystery behind it. You had their signed coin in your hand the whole time. I am still debating which I like better: this or the effect described above. The only hard thing that will take some practice is doing a special move with only one hand. It's done openly in front of the audience, but it is difficult to achieve. The move is quickly taught in the e-book. Other than that, it is pretty easy to do, resets quickly, and is very magical. I like it.

The Teaching:

The teaching in this e-book is just like all of the other Cameron Francis e-books I have reviewed. Superb. There's just about a gazillion pictures, maybe more. I am too lazy to count. Everything is described in immense detail. No grammar/spelling mistakes here to my knowledge, but there is a type in Liam's effect. It's small, and people will still be able to read the effect and understand it.

Overall:

I really liked this e-book. Of all the routines, I think I only really disliked one. Normally $15, but buy it before July 26, 2009, and get it for only $5. Even a better deal for a great e-book. I highly recommend it. I give it a 9/10. Get it now.


This and That

reviewed by Paul Romhany
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 10 August, 2009)

This and ThatWow - this was one of the all time favorite card routines I used to perform in the early 90s when I was doing regular restaurant magic. Many people since have come up with their own ideas but this was one of the first and still the best. This is such an amazing routine and the presentation is fantastic. One of my all time favorite card tricks.


Hoodwink

reviewed by Jamie Daws
Rating: ★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 03 August, 2009)

HoodwinkHoodwink:: First Published 1983 :: 16 Pages

Hoodwink, yet another Torn and Restored handling. With the amount of Torn and Restored effects on the market, it would have to bring something very new or different to the community. Being a card magician, I was looking forward to checking out Ben’s approach to the classic plot. But, after exploring every Torn and Restored plot that I have come across, admittedly, it would be hard to impress me.

Again, as with all of my reviews of Ben’s eBooks, the first thing that really does stand out is the quality of the books. They're just brilliantly put together. The time put into the project is apparent from the second you open the book. With his “Authentication” mark on top of the book so you know you’re getting a quality product.

We slide past the 4-5 pages of copyright declarations once again and finally get to the introduction. The history behind this is yet again very interesting. This is a revisited version of another of Ben’s earlier works “Prime Hole Card”. The development of an effect is, in my opinion very important to get everything just right. Ben has hit the nail right on the head. We move on to the effect.

Now unlike the conventional Torn and Resorted plot, the card is not torn into quarters and restored quarter by quarter. This version see’s the magician tear the card completely in half, display both pieces and in the blink of an eye restore the card. This is the first time we are introduced to the “Flash” restoration which I believe brings a very slick finale to the ending, almost as if the pieces jump together. After viewing a video of this effect online, I must admit to you that I was fooled. Unlike most torn and restored effects, this had such a simple handling and looked so clean. I saw the card being genuinely torn, displayed separately to each other and then in less than a second, it was restored all without anything else being in his hands. Now, that to me seems like a cool handling of Torn and Restored.

The book is well laid out and is incredibly simple. There are Circular photos with lines and nuggets of text to help you along. The handling is incredibly simple and brilliantly clever. I enjoyed how the long drawn out process of 1) tear up the card into quarters 2) display them 3) take 15 minutes just to restore it quarter by quarter. This is replaced by a tear up and one second visual restore. If I were to perform a torn and restored card effect, it would have to be something drastically different or a quick simple presentation much like this. I genuinely enjoyed Ben’s handling of torn and restored and will defiantly use it once or twice. The added value that it is completely impromptu, can use a signed card and has an incredibly deceptive and simplistic handling really helps sell the effect.

Although this is not the most groundbreaking of torn and restored cards, I think it is a brilliant approach to a quick “in and out” handling of the effect that can be performed anytime, anywhere and with any deck of cards with no prior set up. That to me sounds like a winner.

Rating **** 4/5 Stars “A valuable approach to the classic torn and restored plot. A no nonsense, in and out handling that is defiantly to be considered by all serious card magicians.”


Elastic Thread Routines

reviewed by Jamie Daws
Rating: ★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 03 August, 2009)

Elastic Thread RoutinesElastic Thread Routines :: First Published 1989 :: 24 Pages

This is the first of the books sent to me. I’m not a fantastic fan of thread work. Only dabbling in the world of “Loops” and other thread pulls. To this day, I perform very little thread work. So venturing into a book full of thread effects and tips was very underwhelming for me. Firstly, you are greeted with a finely put together eBook. I have many digital books and this is way up with the best in terms of the way it is put together. They have clearly had a lot of time put into them. Unfortunately you have to go through 6 pages of copyright agreements and blank pages to get to the introduction but I suppose it is easy to skip over it and we shall forgive Ben for this.

He has a lengthy introduction which I believe has been re-written from its original publication. Introductions are usually one thing I also skip over but in this case I’m very pleasantly surprised that it really roped me in. Ben’s research into elastic thread magic is brilliant and he brought new facts to the reader as to where some of today’s most commonly performed thread effect really came from. Much to my surprise, it was far from who and where I had thought it had appeared from. It really sets the mood and really makes you appreciate how everything we currently know was rooted in very different circumstances then first thought.

So, to the effects in the book. We are taken firstly to the very beginning. A little bit of thread management. He gives some very helpful tips on how to camouflage your thread and help you feel more confident in using the thread. Although these small details are, well, small; they are essential to thread work as Ben mentions. These small details may be common knowledge to the common thread worker, but these are very helpful to those of us who may be experimenting in the thread world for the first time. Ben again, fully credits the origins of everything he mentions and all the ideas he has listed. He even takes you through how to create a certain type of invisible elastic loop.

Slider :: This is a cute little effect. I can’t help but think it is a little pointless and would have to be used within a routine. However, Ben does suggest this be used as a “gag” effect within the “Strange Travellers” plot. Again, many versions of this exist in current thread DVD’s and books but usually in different ways. One thing I’m beginning to love about Ben’s books is the hand drawn illustrations. To the modern day magician, photos may be more appropriate but I can’t help but feel the organic and genuine approach to these books. The hand drawn illustrations really do make you feel like you are reading a classic. Plus, let’s face it, there just cool!

The Enchanted Butterfly :: Now were getting to it. This is a brilliant little effect using only two playing cards and a cigarette paper (and of course, you’re little something else). Instantly I can think of effect born from this idea. The effect being, creating a butterfly from a cigarette paper, and allowing it to float in between the two cards. I can imagine this perfectly and think it could be presented as a really beautiful piece of magic. The handling is incredibly clever and I have not come across this style of handling with thread work before. His thinking behind how the thread is being anchored is very clever and incredibly detailed. The effect is simple in method and beautiful in execution. The set up is minimal and allows everything to lay dormant in your deck until you need it. Possibly one of my favourite effects in the book.

Floating Smoke Ring :: This is another very cool effect that i hadn’t seen before. The handling is very simple but again, incredibly well put together. Allowing a ring made from a cigarette paper to float from under a glass, up between your hands and land on the upside-down glass base. Not much to say about this one. There are many images to help you along and a very clever handling of a cool effect.

The Flexing Pip :: This being another of my firm favourites in the book. Again, many version of the “moving pips” have been and gone. Usually the effect is created with a complex gimmick that has been made in a factory or hours by hand and cost a fortune. Ben teaches you how to make a very simple version of this effect. Just by shaking a two of diamonds, you can visually cause it to change to a three of diamonds. I will defiantly making one of these gimmicks up. I can make as many of these as I wish, inexpensively and still get the same effect as some of the expensive versions of the market. This is defiantly worth checking out and one that should be worked into a close up act. This takes those of us who are scared to use thread as a floatation device and allows us to utilise the thread in a solid, no hassle, no worry, fully camouflaged effect.

The Floating Card :: The effect is in the name. Again, many versions of this on the market and it appears in many other literatures. Ben’s handling is simple, effective and clever. Again, another effect that is slightly pointless and is a throwaway effect but I have no doubt that in the right routine, it can work wonders.

Coins on the move :: A coin effect with thread in which the coins visually assemble in the centre of the table. Again, very pointless and I’m not sure if it would work in a routine but it’s one of those effects that you could watch in the mirror time and time again, just for the fun of it. However, the simple handling allows you to slot in there with your favourite assembly trick.

Everything in these books is brilliantly put together. The images make it feel like a classic. The effects are real trend setters. What I love about this book is the effects really bring together many different types of magicians and allow everyone to get in on the act. For close up magicians you have traditional thread plots and floatation’s. For card magicians, a way to make pips visually spear on cards and make cards move. Stage and parlour magicians can make paper butterflies come to life. Every effect has an introduction into its creation and everything in the book is very well credited. I’m not sure if the book will convert me back into thread magic but I will defiantly be trying one or two of these effects in future.

Rating :: **** 4/5 Stars

“A brilliant insight to thread magic with something for even the most sceptical ‘threadaphobes’.”


Cosmosis: The original floating match

reviewed by Jamie Daws
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 03 August, 2009)

Cosmosis: The original floating matchCosmosis :: First Published 1986 :: 26 Pages

Cosmosis is one of the effects that I have previously owned before the Digital version was released. This is an effect that I believe we can all relate to. This is one of the best selling effects around the world with companies everywhere ripping it off. It’s literally everywhere. Even one of the best selling commercial magic companies Marvin’s Magic reproduces this classic effect. But, learning the effect from the original source is bar none, the best way to learn an effect and now that this eBook is more available to magicians, I really hope people pick it up and get the original inventors insight into this wonderful creation. Admittedly, the first version of this that I owned was in some kind of children’s magic set and it was not until I purchased Ben’s Cosmosis about 3 years ago that I realised how historic this creation really is.

To those who do not know this classic, all you have to do is go into YouTube and type in Floating match to see just how popular this effect is, boasting thousands of videos from children and adults alike. From the professionals to the hobbyists, it seems to cover such a vast market of people from all over the world. The effect in its simplest form: Two cards are selected from the deck. A wooden match is introduced and is set on the back of one of the playing cards. The match then hovers over the card and the second card is passed beneath it to prove nothing is holding it up. The match hovers back down and it is handed out for inspection.

So firstly, we sift through the 5 or so pages of copyright agreements. However, this time we have a couple of images to keep us amused on our way to the introduction. Again, the introduction has been rewritten for the release of the digital book. The quality of this eBook is fantastic. Sleek, simple and easy to navigate through. The introduction really brings home just how much this effect has gone through and how much Ben has been forgotten through the various pirated copies that have been made through the years. Ben goes over the various thoughts behind the trick and also informs us of an authorised version of the effect that uses a small broomstick. Very fun indeed.

What I find most interesting about this effect compared to the marketed card versions is that we can pay up to £15 for two premade cards. In Ben’s original Cosmosis, not only does he teach you in depth how to make the cards at home, but also how to acquire the right props and things to use. Meaning you can make hundreds of the gimmicks for about £2.50. This really shows how much these rip off versions really do rip us off. Ben’s thoughts throughout the book are worth every penny and almost make me feel guilty at ever looking at another version of the floating match. The whole book is fantastically well written with many clear, artistic photos which help greatly when making the gimmicks. Everything is taught in depth and so careful is Ben to make the book last throughout time, he seems to have re written some of and re edited some of this book exclusively for the digital download.

I feel as if I must thank Ben personally for this effect. An effect that I believe we have all played with at some point and one that most of us will never forget. I’m glad I have had the chance to learn it from the original creator of the effect. This really does rival any of the premade versions on the market. What would you honestly prefer? To learn how to make the gimmicks for a lifetime and for next to nothing as well as gaining priceless information on the effects origins and learn from the creator, the inn’s and out’s of the effect from start to end or to buy pre made cards for triple the price and without the original critical workings that make the effect so strong. I know which I would prefer.

Rating :: ***** 5/5 Stars

“This is a priceless piece of magic literature and something every magician should have in their collection. Possibly one of Ben Harris’s greatest achievements.”


Instantly Healed: Torn & Restored Card

reviewed by Dennis Barlotta
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Friday 26 June, 2009)

Instantly Healed: Torn & Restored CardI was asked t review the trick "Instantly Healed" by Ray Hengeveld. I am certainly not a ‘household name’ among magician's. I studied with Slydini for eight years and perform for laymen at private parties, hospitality suites and trade show booths.

If I am going to add a trick to my performance list, the trick must be dependable. It has to be practical ... commercial. While I will occasionally meet a person who is generally interested in the Art of Magic, most laymen simply wanted to be entertained and are not concerned with technique.

So when I see a trick like "Instantly Healed", a trick that enables me to perform a very nice ‘close up illusion’, a trick that is dependable, and workable in a real world circumstance, I appreciate it very much.

Ray has created a trick with a beginning, middle, and an end. The construction is logical and the actions of the magician can be justified in the mind of the spectator.

There are some subtle things going on that will inspire thought and creation in the mind of the magician.

The manuscript is sincere in its effort to provide the reader with complete instructions and offer alternatives of performance and method.

Dennis Barlotta San Francisco, 2009


The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret Life, 2nd Edition

reviewed by Marc DeSouza
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Thursday 18 June, 2009)

The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret Life, 2nd EditionI had the pleasure of hosting Ben Robinson at our home/theatre last week, to deliver a lecture on the subject of this book, John Mulholland. He enthralled the entire audience for nearly two hours with stories of Mulholland's life as a performer, author, lecturer, editor and consultant to the CIA. As a bonus, he performed several of Mulholland's signature effects and even taught one of them. All in all, a very informative, entertaining and fascinating evening for all. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in magical history and if Robinson is appearing anywhere near your area, do not miss him.

Marc DeSouza


Complete Two Ball Sponge Ball Routine

reviewed by Carlos Negron (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Wednesday 17 June, 2009)

Complete Two Ball Sponge Ball RoutineIf you are new to sponge magic and know some things about it, but need a routine this is a good start. But you should know some things about using sponge balls already.

For the price you can not go wrong and the routine is solid worker stuff. My only pet peve here is that the description advertises that this could be done as a street routine. I have to say that unless you have a table you can not do this routine as written in the street (or the author does not describe the differences between doing this routine in the street vs. table hopping).

It did strike my imagination and gave me something to walk away with. You get to see and example of patter and presentation of the effect which I think a lot of books lack. The routine itself, to me, provides something different from standard sponge routines.

I gave it 3 for false advertisement, but that is just my opinion.


Ask Roberto Giobbi

reviewed by Andreas Sucker
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Saturday 30 May, 2009)

Ask Roberto GiobbiImagine you are a guitar enthusiast and you would get the chance to ask Eric Clapton any question you ever wanted to ask him about his playing, his technique, his heroes, his equipment.

Now you can be glad that you are a magic enthusiast and Roberto lets your wish come true! I have subscribed to it immediately and I only can recommend you to do so!


Blue and Gold: The Complete Guide to Working The Scout Market

reviewed by Carlos Negron (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Saturday 30 May, 2009)

Blue and Gold: The Complete Guide to Working The Scout MarketBlue and Gold E-Book Review

I gave this E-book a rating of 3. I would have rated this a 2 based on the price paid, but bumped it up to a 3 because I know that:

1. You will make your money back on this if you are already a seasoned performer. 2. You get some ideas and help from one of the most generous persons in magic today who will in no doubt help you further in working this venue.

I do not recommend this E-book for the following people:

1. Those who are not seasoned Family/Children entertainers. 2. Those who already work in this market.

This e-book is a small push in the right direction for the seasoned Family/Children entertainer to increase their work by focusing on this market. Besides the lack of edit/proof reading (there are some grammatical and spelling errors), Kyle shares some “ideas” and experiences that has worked for him.

The E-book starts off slow with an introduction and reasons of working and not working this market. I feel a lot of the material in this section could have been minimized or left out. The most interesting part in this section is where he describes how the Scouts began. So the first 9 pages provide a very small value before you start hitting some valuable information. On a scale of 1 to 5 I give this section a 1.

Next is budgets and fees, which is one of the most important subjects that first come to mind in working any venue. This section falls a little short of what I expected because you are only given general guidelines on what to charge and how to figure out what to charge. It leaves the reader to work it out on his own. I expected real world numbers and experience. This should be nothing new for the seasoned performer would naturally do this on his own. I give this section a 2.

Next is about packages to offer and the length of your show. This information sparks the creative juices and provides some ideas on what to offer this market. The details of the venue are broken down and valuable advise is given that will give you a head start on what to expect from this type of venue. I would describe these pages as Kyle's tips and tricks. Good stuff here, I give this section a 4.

After 16 pages, you finally get into the marketing aspects. This is what you are paying for and what this E-book advertises. You get a list of resources, techniques on approaches, and small examples. Overall good material on how to do the leg work and marketing steps to get you moving in the right direction. The thing lacking here is real world examples. There is a sample sales letter and scripts but they leave you short of just having to find your own way on this. Then there is a brief mention about promotional material. I would have expected at least an example on what Kyle's promotional material looked like and details on these items. I give this section a 3.

So now you are up to page 28 and we get into the show aspects. There are some good ideas, some concrete examples, but nothing of any detail. You are not going to get a full act out of this section. This is where the E-book started to fail me because if your going to mention this stuff you might as well go all the way. What does Kyle do at these shows? What is the structure of the show? David Ginn certainly provides that info, why not provide that here since it is brought up. What made up for this, was the ideas provided on back of room sales; marketing yourself at the event; and extending what you learned to make the venue work for you through out the year. I give this section a 3.

In short, you are given a lot of ideas that you are left to sort out yourself. Some of the ideas should be obvious to the seasoned performer; some are specific to this venue; and others are those ideas you know about but might have forgotten.

I hope this review helps.

My one pet peve is where there is an endorsment from Ken Scott, and then in the book there is mention of Ken Scott's product.


The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret Life, 2nd Edition

reviewed by Denny Haney, Denny & Lee Magic Studio
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Tuesday 26 May, 2009)

The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret Life, 2nd EditionThis lecture kept me in my seat all the way through. One of the most interesting lectures I have ever seen. Totally fascinating and informative. The three Mulholland effects Ben performed were terrific. I highly recommend that you get this book as it will be extremely enjoyable.


The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret Life, 2nd Edition

reviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Tuesday 05 May, 2009)

The MagiCIAn: John Mulholland's Secret Life, 2nd EditionAuthor Robinson presents an erudite and illuminating read, filled with the wonder of magic and the hard facts of history. He brings to life a fascinating character in John Mulholland, and little known events with wondrous revelations, heretofore hidden from the public at large. The enormity of the the author's research and writing efforts are in evidence throughout.

If anyone thinks government malfeasance began with Nixonian manipulations and reached it's nadir during the recent Bush years, this story must be examined closely! "The MagiCIAn" is a must read page turner.


Lecture Book 2009

reviewed by Lance Bowen
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Monday 04 May, 2009)

Lecture Book 2009Brilliant idea's and REAL HARD hitting card magic. Absolutely superb my friend.


Online Poker Mastery

reviewed by Shawna McPretty
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Saturday 02 May, 2009)

Online Poker MasteryThis book is amazing! It helped me so much in playing online poker. I've read a few books on poker strategy, but this one definitely broke it down and was easy to understand. I definitely would recommend it to beginners and intermediate poker players.


Si Stebbins Pro

reviewed by Bingo Bongo
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Friday 01 May, 2009)

Si Stebbins ProThe booklet reads more like a scientific paper on the Si Stebbins system. The description on how to stack and locate cards is rather complicated, written in mathematical formulars.

The Author should have put at the start on how to stack the pack in one string, then in simple words on how to locate cards etc. and then continue to explain the mathematics behind it and formulas in algebraic notation. The history and background of the Si Stebbins should also be in the back for those who are interested.

All in all, I find it rather difficult to work out on how to set the stack and how to work with it based on the description in the text. You really have to sit down and work through the material to work it out.

Conclusion: Once you have figured it out, it is certainly worthwhile, but it reads more like a scientific dossier. I find it rather complicated.


Arte de Encantamiento

reviewed by Wilhelm Eberhard
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Thursday 23 April, 2009)

Arte de EncantamientoI wonder how would magic in Spain be like without Father Wenceslao Ciuró... Anyhow, this is certainly a very interesting book, and the section on stage illusions is really good.

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