Bite-Sized Reviews of Admission, Meow or Never, The Canyon’s Edge, and You Have a Match

January 21, 2021 Reviews 12 ★★★★

I still have some more Cybils reviews to post, but I’m taking a little time off from that to post some newer releases. (Though I will be coming back to some of my favorite Cybils books still). Today, I have two YA contemps and two MG contemps (one in verse!) I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!


Bite-Sized Reviews of Admission, Meow or Never, The Canyon’s Edge, and You Have a MatchAdmission by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press on December 1, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
4 Stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes an of-the-moment novel that peeks inside the private lives of the hypercompetitive and the hyperprivileged and takes on the college admissions bribery scandal that rocked the country.

It's good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer. She's headed off to the college of her dreams. She's going to prom with the boy she's had a crush on since middle school. Her best friend always has her back, and her mom, a B-list Hollywood celebrity, may finally be on her way to the B+ list. It's good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer--at least, it was, until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in smoke. Now her mother is under arrest in a massive college admissions bribery scandal. Chloe, too, might be facing charges, and even time behind bars. The public is furious, the press is rabid, and the US attorney is out for blood.

As she loses everything she's long taken for granted, Chloe must reckon not only with the truth of what happened, but also with the examination of her own guilt. Why did her parents think the only way for her to succeed was to cheat for her? What did she know, and when did she know it? And perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be complicit?

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Let’s face it, we were all more than a little fascinated when news of the big college admissions scandal came out. Unless you were living under a rock, you saw the news and you probably formed some of your own opinions about everyone involved. I’ll confess I did. So, when I saw that Julie Buxbaum was writing a (fictional) account of a girl in a similar situation, I was intrigued!

One of my favorite things about Buxbaum’s book is how she presents Chloe as a complex character, definitely flawed but still someone you find yourself rooting for in some ways. Buxbaum manages to make the reader sympathize with Chloe while never letting her MC off the hook for her complicity in her parents’ schemes. It seems like a realistic portrayal of how someone could get wrapped up in doing something wrong all while convincing themselves that it wasn’t really happening. The book also puts a spotlight on wealth and privilege and how easy it is to fall back on that privilege without actually acknowledging it. Chloe’s world is so small that she actually doesn’t see how obtuse she’s being, and so often she has thoughts or makes comments that are downright offensive, but she really and truly has no clue. It’s a fascinating character study. The addition of characters like Chloe’s sister Isla (who has actually worked hard for her future instead of just feeling like she deserves it by default) and best friend Shola (whose Nigerian immigrant family has lived through actual hardship and doesn’t enjoy the benefits of white privilege or wealth) make the story that much richer because these characters act as foils to Chloe. The book definitely gives you quite a few things to think about!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of Admission, Meow or Never, The Canyon’s Edge, and You Have a MatchMeow or Never by Jazz Taylor
Published by Scholastic Inc. on January 5, 2021
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Pages: 256
Source: Edelweiss
My content rating: MG (Budding romance; Themes of anxiety and difficult home situations)
My rating:
5 Stars

A heartwarming story of secret pets and secret crushes... and learning to take center stage!

Avery Williams can sing, but that doesn't mean she can sing in front of people. She likes to stay backstage at her new school, which is where, to her surprise, she finds a cat tucked away into a nook. Avery names the stray Phantom and visits any time she's feeling stressed (which is a lot these days).
As she sings to Phantom one day, her crush, Nic, overhears her and ropes Avery into auditioning for the school's musical. Despite her nerves, Avery lands the lead role!

She knows she should be excited, but mostly Avery is terrified. Can Phantom help her through her stage fright? And what will happen if anyone finds out about her secret pet?

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My daughter loved the Scholastic Wish novels when she was younger, so I was excited to see a book from this imprint with LGBTQ+ rep! So many aspects of this book would have appealed to her that it made me love the book even more: the musical theatre, the cuddly cat, the strong friendships, the crush, even the MC Avery’s anxiety (my daughter also struggles with anxiety, though it’s not as debilitating as Avery’s). This is just one of those books that makes you want to give it a big hug—it’s utterly sweet! The book tackles issues in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming for a middle grade audience. Not only does it focus on Avery’s anxiety, but it also features a character who is struggling with a mentally abusive parent and explores sexuality in a way that feels authentic and relatable. And I love that Taylor wraps everything up in a way that feels satisfying but is also believable (no, Avery doesn’t miraculously get over her anxiety completely). This middle grade read makes my heart happy!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of Admission, Meow or Never, The Canyon’s Edge, and You Have a MatchThe Canyon's Edge by Dusti Bowling
on September 8, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Verse
Pages: 320
Source: Purchased
Cover Artist: Pascal Campion
My content rating: MG (Death of a family member; Some violence, though it isn't directly shown)
My rating:
5 Stars

Hatchet meets Long Way Down in this heartfelt and gripping novel in verse about a young girl's struggle for survival after a climbing trip with her father goes terribly wrong.

One year after a random shooting changed their family forever, Nora and her father are exploring a slot canyon deep in the Arizona desert, hoping it will help them find peace. Nora longs for things to go back to normal, like they were when her mother was still alive, while her father keeps them isolated in fear of other people. But when they reach the bottom of the canyon, the unthinkable happens: A flash flood rips across their path, sweeping away Nora's father and all of their supplies.

Suddenly, Nora finds herself lost and alone in the desert, facing dehydration, venomous scorpions, deadly snakes, and, worst of all, the Beast who has terrorized her dreams for the past year. If Nora is going to save herself and her father, she must conquer her fears, defeat the Beast, and find the courage to live her new life.

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A harrowing survival story with sky-high emotional stakes told in lyrical verse? Sign me up, please! I read this entire book in one sitting because I was desperate to learn the truth about Nora’s traumatic past and to find out if she and her father would both make it home in one piece. Nora has already had plenty of heartache—it’s clear from the start of the book that something has happened that tore her family apart. Her mother is dead and her father has PTSD, and neither he nor Nora have been able to find a new normal since. This trip is supposed to be their redemption, a chance to enjoy something that they both love, but it all goes very wrong when the canyon floods and Nora is separated from her father. She has no idea if he’s even alive, but she knows that she can’t give up on him. So, she faces both a harsh environment and the memories that haunt her to find her way back to him. Nora’s journey is perilous, but it’s her internal journey that is most compelling, as she is forced to face her fears and the very real emotional scars that she was left with after that night a year ago when her mother died. This gripping tale is beautifully written, and it will echo through my thoughts for a long time to come!


Bite-Sized Reviews of Admission, Meow or Never, The Canyon’s Edge, and You Have a MatchYou Have a Match by Emma Lord
Published by Wednesday Books on January 12, 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Source: NetGalley
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
4 Stars

A REESE'S BOOK CLUB WINTER YA PICK

A new love, a secret sister, and a summer she'll never forget.

From the beloved author of Tweet Cute comes Emma Lord's You Have a Match, a hilarious and heartfelt novel of romance, sisterhood, and friendship...

When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.

But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.

When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents — especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.

The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby's growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.

But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.

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A heartwarming story that examines what it really means to be family. You’ve probably seen stories of people who’ve unearthed family secrets via DNA tests (the tests have become quite popular lately!). In today’s world it’s becoming easier and easier to find genetic ties you might not have known you had. But how would you feel if you took one of these tests and found out about the existence of a (full) sister you never knew existed? That’s what happens to Abby, and it turns her world upside down. Now, from reading this description, you might expect this book to be dark and angsty, but Lord manages to explore issues of family (and friends who are as close as family) without making this feel like an “issue” book. I would say this reads more like a feel-good romance than a book about deep dark family secrets (though it manages to be a bit of both—the romance definitely takes a backseat to the family plotline). As Abby tries to unravel the mysteries of her sister’s very existence, she also deals with a crush on her best friend and all of the many hang-ups and insecurities that go along with being a teenager. In the end, she has to convince her conflict-avoiding self to fight for the relationships that mean the most to her, but she learns that it’s definitely worth the fight!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think? I wanna know!

12 Responses to “Bite-Sized Reviews of Admission, Meow or Never, The Canyon’s Edge, and You Have a Match”

  1. Sam@wlabb

    I DNFed Buxbaum’s book twice. I usually adore her books (even read all her adult books), but I just could not get into it. It’s funny that Match was pushed as a romance, because, like you said, it was like a sub-sub-plot. I did like all the family stuff and camp hijinks. It was fun. Excited to see such praise for Bowling’s book. I love Aven Green so much and am excited to read more of Bowling’s books. This is the first seeing Meow or Never and you have me so curious. Sounds fabulous!

  2. trin carl

    That admissions book reminds me a lot of this other book ‘Girls with a Bright future.’ It must be admissions season because I’m seeing a lot of books with similar themes. I’ve picked up a lot of passengers who are in college, some of the athletes talk about how they can’t claim any sports marketing money due to their likeness. Its a shame because scholarship money is often not enough to get by.

  3. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    I am jealous that you have read the Dusti Bowling book before me, but am thrilled that you loved it! I preordered it ages ago, but alas hah. I have been kind of uninterested in Admission, mostly because I find the OG story irritating? Like- did Aunt Becky really need to lie and cheat? Great role modeling, folks. Meow or Never sounds really cute, I will add that one to Lena’s wishlist! And Match.. well I keep crossing my fingers that my DNA will reveal cool secrets, but alas, it likely will not hahah. Great reviews!

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: Review & Giveaway: Playing with Fire by April Henry

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