Three Magical Books

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder since October. Crazy, huh? It looks OK to me, so I’m going to fix the typos that I found and publish it. Here goes!

My friend recently mentioned Sarah Mlynowski’s Magic in Manhattan series, which reminded me that I needed to go back and finish it. So I did. Click here to see what I wrote about the first book (Bras & Broomsticks) or continue reading this page for reviews of the second, third, and fourth books of the series.

Frogs & French Kisses by Sarah Mlynowski

Grade: A

Bras & Broomsticks may have won me over in the end, but Frogs & French Kisses had me at the very beginning. The story begins with young witch Miri practicing her broom-flying skills while her older sister Rachel, who is not a witch, hangs on to the back for dear life. They crash land in a field with cows, which was not a particularly enjoyable experience for them, but later they find out that those cows are going to be made into steaks, which is even worse. They go back to the field later and Miri uses her witchy powers to zap the cows to safety. But Miri’s magic misfires and somehow interprets “safety” to mean “the gymnasium of Rachel’s high school.” The cows ruin the gym floor and the repairs will be costly, but worst of all, now the prom can’t be held there! The girls will have to do something to make amends and, of course, silliness ensues.

Rachel is in great form in this book. She comes across as both fun and funny. I enjoyed this reading immensely, and I cannot fathom why I would have quit the book previously without finishing it. Recommended.

Spells & Sleeping Bags by Sarah Mlynowski

Grade: B

In this book Miri and Rachel go to summer camp. Rachel is dealing was some life changes, Miri feels neglected, and there’s a mean girl at camp who seems to be deliberately widening the rift between the sisters. It’s a teen summer camp book, so expect lots of new friends, pranks, swimming, canoeing, and romance. I can’t say much more than that without spoilers.

Though I often like summer camp stories, this one didn’t quite work for me. Rachel was not quite so amusing this time (what happened???), and the plot was predictable. However, if you enjoyed the first two books of the series and want to know what happens between Rachel and the boy she’s been crushing on, then go ahead and read it. Just be warned—I think Mlynowski may have been trying to age-up the book with teen talk, including some minor swears. My own very young kids have already encountered worse language, so I doubt even the youngest teens are going to find it shocking. I just thought that some of the language and semi-mature content was a little off-putting.

Parties & Potions by Sarah Mlynowski

Grade: B+

Warning: potential spoilers ahead.

The girls have discovered that there are many other witches in the world. Indeed, witches have their own culture and customs and language. The girls decide to enter witch society by taking part in the Samsorta, which is basically the bat mitzvah of witchdom. They even take special classes at a witch school to learn the details of the ceremony. Miri finally starts to make friends (including boys!), but Rachel is having a hard time compartmentalizing her life into magical parts and non-magical parts.

I liked this book better than the third one, but it reminded me too much of other series, including Harry Potter (which was referenced at least twice, probably to let us know that the author realized the comparison was inevitable). As with the previous book, you may find it worth reading just to find out what happens between Rachel and her love interest.

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