Cover Image: When the Vibe Is Right

When the Vibe Is Right

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Member Reviews

It's funny that this Romeo & Juilet retelling starts by talking about other Romeo and Juliet retellings. Honestly, I liked this book way more than expected. It was very well done and touched on several difficult topics. Tess was real, and fierce, and you rooted for her at the same time you felt for her. The family feuds had a very plausible and tangible explanation and was addressed several times throughout the book. The dynamics between Tess and Brandon grew and smoothly changed as the story went on.

Added to all that is the introduction to this whole Carnival and Mas Band culture, which was just fascinating. You learn more about the traditions from a local standpoint, giving it a much deeper meaning. The book on the whole captured my attention and begged me to keep reading.

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I liked the whole plot as well as learning more about Trinidad’s Carnival celebration. I really had no idea what went into it with the bands as well as the costumes and I really liked reading about it. The whole frenemies trope was cute too, I enjoyed reading the relationship blossom between Tess and Brandon.

Some parts were a tad boring and I kinda just skimmed through. I also thought this book was fairly mediocre. Like it was good but it wasn’t great. I wish there was a bit more banter to make it more engaging.

3.9 stars rounded to 4 for me!

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Tess is a young designer with dreams of eventually taking over the family business, Grandeur. Built by her grandfather and currently run by her uncle she's not ready to give up despite the business failing for the past few years. In order to help Grandeur succeed she decides to team up with classmate Brandon who is a social media influencer after he gets fired by a rival band.

This story is inspired by Much Ado About Nothing and their are little nods to the story throughout from Tess's first name being Beatrice to her family name being Messina and so much more. The Shakespeare fans will enjoy enjoy those little references, many of which went over my head as someone not as familiar with Shakespeare even though I've seen this play. But it doesn't take away from enjoying the book. It does mean there's some focus on Tess' cousin and the romance she has going on as a side plot.

This a is a fun look behind the scenes at what goes into making the costumes for Carnival Tuesday. Grandeur is an old school style band that doesn't host the fetes over give extra special perks so they've been losing money to flashier competitors. There's a nice conversation in here about how to blend the Carnival of old with the new age.

Reading who aren't familiar with Trinidad get a peak into the culture and some different areas of the island.

The romance is a slow burn and the story took a little bit for me to get into but there's plenty of banter and great chemistry to prevent readers from being bored.

My only real critique is that Tess and Brandon feel at least early to mid 20s rather than 17 and 18 year olds and it's not just because of their responsibilities. Nothing really would changed if she had made them college students.

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This is such a cute, fun, kind of frustrating but with excellent character development, YA novel.

Quick Synopsis: Tess is as stubborn as they come and her and Brandon have hated each other for as long as she can remember. Now in her senior year of high school in Trindidad, Tess is determined to save her Uncle’s costume design business in time for Carnival, but she’ll need Brandon’s social media expertise to do it.

Trigger warnings: Cheating (not MCs); death of parents (referenced); misogynyl and sexism;

What I liked:
-The ending was super sweet and worth the wait.
-At first, I didn’t like Tess and I was kind of ambivalent about Brandon, but the author did a good job with character development so by the end, I was invested in both of them.
-I liked the foil of David and the rival costume design shop.
-I’ve always loved the “he’s always loved/liked her trope” which we get here and it just gets me every time.
-We get lots of Trinidadian culture and vernacular and just cool info about the culture. I’ve never been there so for me, that was really fun.

What I struggled with:
-I’m sorry but I will never believe these characters are in high school. I aged them up in my head adn set them in college because there’s just no way.
-The first half of the novel kind of frustrated me, mostly because Tess was so unbelievably stubborn and we really don't’ start to see her character development until the 50% mark.
-Third act breakup. WHY.

Altogether, this was a really cute YA romance read.

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This book was done in a setting that I had not heard of before, even though the premise was I really liked the characters and the storyline. There was depth to them and I liked it alot.

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This was cute but I think I wanted more. I think that having some of Brandons pov would have been helpful. He's super sweet but I wanted to understand his motivations more. Tess was great and I loved seeing her passion for her design and for carnival.

I received an arc through netgalley.

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So good! Sarah Dass can not write a bad book. I loved Tess as a character, she was funny and sarcastic. Also loved Hazel and their close bond. Brandon was great too. Dass did a good job with the enemies to lovers trope but I wish we we would’ve gotten a little more romance

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In When the Vibe Is Right we follow Tess, a seventeen year-old girl, who dreams of becoming a professional Trinidadian Carnival costume designer like her esteemed Uncle Russel. Not many teenagers can say they have a nemesis, but Brandon Richards is truly the textbook definition for Tess. From his annoying nicknames for Tess to his never-ending social media posts he is the bane of her existence. But when Uncle Russel’s costume design company needs a modern miracle to keep them from ruin…suddenly, Brandon might be the exact opposite of who Tess thought he was all along!

This was such a fun read with a nice slow-burn enemies to lovers romance! I loved the build-up throughout the story as Tess and Brandon had such good banter with one another. The story just felt so natural and authentic to this weird time in life where you’re kind of an adult, but also still kind of a kid and trying really hard to balance the two. In terms of characters, I felt that the main and side characters were incredibly well-rounded. I really loved Tess as a main character…maybe because I related to her a bit too much, but let me have my bias! However, her character arc throughout this novel was truly amazing to read. I also loved Brandon and it was seriously amazing to see main male characters who were not emotionally stunted and able to express themselves! Although this novel is told in only one POV, I felt like Brandon was fully fleshed out and never remained elusive to the reader.

Additionally, I loved Sarah Dass’s writing style and found it hard to put this book down! I appreciated learning more about Trinidadian Carnival costume design and culture, as well as the incorporation of Indo-Trinidadian culture. It was especially heart-warming hearing abut the significance of Carnival and its evolution from Tess! The writing definitely skews to upper-YA, which is a personal favorite of mine. However, I will note that there are a lot of references to Shakespeare in this; some of which I could understand the symbolism of and others where I think the connections went over my head. Obviously, this is subjective so readers your mileage may vary on if you enjoy these references or not. I also wish that the ending had been just a little longer because there was a lot going on within the last fifty pages and it all felt a bit rushed. Overall though, this was still such a great read and a real standout for me in YA romance!

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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
Sarah Dass does it again with her second YA romance, When the Vibe Is Right. Once again drawing from classic literature (Much Ado About Nothing, which I’m admittedly a bit less familiar with), she injects it with some Trinidadian cultural flavor by setting the story around Carnival, something I’ve heard a bit about, but never experienced. The excitement around the event and everything that goes into it radiates through the pages, and I’d love to experience it in person one day.
Tess is a strong, yet sympathetic protagonist. I loved her relationships with her family, and her shared passion for design with her uncle, as well as her interest in the fate of the family band. It was great to read about someone who knew her own mind, but also loved her family and their heritage and wanted to uphold it.
I also liked getting to know Brandon. He’s different from Tess in a lot of ways, and she has some understandable reasons to dislike him (the nickname thing rubbed me the wrong way), but underneath that he has issues of his own that mean he has more in common with her than she initially realizes.
And as it is Much Ado inspired, there are some side stories that pay homage to certain side character arcs, like Hazel and Chris’ romance. I did feel at times that this took away from the main romance and the plot with the band rivalry, but I can also understand what Dass was trying to do.
In spite of these minor issues, this is another winner from Sarah Dass, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for Black YA romance, especially if you’re looking for stories set outside the US.

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“As we let out the old and welcome the new, only good vibes.”

Tess has her future all figured out: Trinidadian Carnival costume designer. She lives for Carnival and fashion, planning to take over her illustrious uncle Russel’s masquerade band, Grandeur. Yet, her future is jeopardized when a long-standing feud with a rival band tanks Grandeur’s sales and threatens to close the company's doors. The only chance Tess sees to save the band is to modernize the branding, and there is no one else more qualified to help than social media influencer and her archnemesis Brandon. However, during the revitalization of Grandeur, Tess begins to see Brandon in a new light and questions where love can grow.

When the Vibe Is Right is an enemies-to-lovers tale with a Trinidadian Carnival twist. I loved the dynamic setting in Trinidad and the inclusion of rich Trinidadian culture and food, like gyros. I did not know very much about Carnival when I started reading, but my favorite aspect of the book was Tess’ outfits and costume designs. One main theme throughout is the tension between the traditions of the past and the emerging practices of the present. All of the adult figures disdain the explosion of social media and do not understand the importance of growing an online presence and interacting with customers to have a successful business. This prominent theme might be very relatable to readers, especially those interested in entrepreneurship or social media. While The vibrant setting, fascinating costumes, and interesting themes kept me engaged, unfortunately, Tess and Brandon’s romance fell flat. The enemies aspect of their relationship, which was based on a childhood misunderstanding, felt completely unrealistic. Disappointingly, I also felt no romantic tension building between the characters. I actually enjoyed watching the side romance between Tess’ cousin Hazel and her new boyfriend Chris progress more than the main love interest. There is little to no direct interaction between the two bands or memorable moments between Tess and Brandon. Another aspect of the novel that could have been developed further was the feud between Tess’ uncle’s band Grandeur and their rival, Royalty.

Pick up a copy of When the Vibe Is Right to learn about Trinidadian culture, fall in love with Carnival costumes, and experience a small splash of romance.

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This was my first Sarah Dass read, and popped up on my radar thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide.

Like many other reviewers, I enjoyed learning about Trinidad & Tobago and the traditions of Carnival in this rendering of a classic. The enemies-to-lovers trope is one of my favorites, and thought it played out sweetly in this coming of age story. Great, easy read for summer!

Thank you to Netgally and the publisher for providing access to a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This was my first read from the author and I can say I’m a fan. This story follows Beatrice Crawford. She is a designer who helps her uncle’s Mas ban Grandaur. Her nemesis is Brandon. From the first time they met he has been a thorn in her side. She used to date Brandon’s best friend and he had a problem with that. Now a band is competing against her uncle’s Mas band and Brandon happens to be working as influencer for them. After they fall out Brandon and Tess begin working together. I only gave it 4 stars due to not having enough romance for me and when the main characters get together it just wasn’t enough for me.

Thank you to Harper Collins CHILDRENS Books, Balzer + Bray and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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This is my first novel by Sarah Dass and I really enjoyed almost everything about this book. I think Beatrice and Brendon were quint essential high schoolers and mostly everything they went through was realistic and something that we've all experienced. The back drop of the story being Carnival is what really intrigued me about this story and my only critique was for this to be a YA romance I wish the author had gone a little bit more in depth about the history of the tradition of Carnival. It is a perfect space to be a little indulgent and let younger readers know more about something they probably know very little about. Overall the writing was great as was the character development and the twists and turns the story took!! I can't wait to tell my readers more about the book.

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When Tess finds out that her family’s mas band, Grandeur, is in trouble, she enlists the help of her nemesis, Brandon. With his almost 100k social media followers, Brandon is the only person she knows that can help generate enough publicity to ensure that Grandeur sees another year.

This was honestly so cute and I loved that it transported me into a country and culture I’ve never experienced. This is set in Trinidad and Tobago and focuses on Tess’s family business which is to design Carnival costumes for their masquerade band. I enjoyed reading about the hard work and creativity that goes into the design of the gorgeous costumes I’ve only ever seen photos of.

The characters were also all really great (both main and side) and I particularly enjoyed the funny banter between Tess and Brandon—it was obvious to everyone but them that they had chemistry. That being said, they are both dealing with some pretty heavy issues that felt kind of glossed over in favor of the less heavy topic of saving the band. These additions help the reader understand them as characters (which is always a plus for me) but it also felt like they weren’t dug into deep enough.

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This is the first Sarah Dass novel that I’ve read, and I’m wondering why I’m just now discovering her. I enjoyed reading “When the Vibe is Right” so I’ll be sure to check out her other works!

In the opening scene, we meet Tess and shortly after, Brandon and all of the cute and funny supporting characters. I am a fan of Young Adult Romance novels especially involving people of color, so I’m not surprised this book caught my attention. This was a cute, (fr)enemies-to-lovers story — and I say this because the enemies part did not come off as strongly to me — that touched on grief and other topics in an interesting way. I also loved learning about the Trinidad Carnival celebration.

Tess and Brandon’s love story was not the only one discussed and I really enjoyed reading about Hazel and Chris too. I gave this 3.5 rounded to 4 stars because the dialogue seemed awkward at times and some parts of the plot seemed a bit slow or unnecessary. However, I appreciated how authentic the characters came off. They were not perfect, just like me. And, don’t get me wrong, I definitely liked the book and I’m glad I read it.

I’m a fast reader, but paired with a cute story, I was able to finish this book in less than 2 days!

One of my favorite quotes from the novel:

“This is me saying, if you’re interested in extending our truce indefinitely, then this time, I promise, I’m all in.”

Thank you, HarperCollins Children's Books, for this eARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion! If you are into Young Adult Contemporary Romance novels and happy endings, I recommend this to you.

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Absolutely loved this! Enemies to lovers is definitely one of my favorite romance tropes and this definitely falls within that.

Tess and Brandon’s relationship started off rocky, but slowly over time, Tess found out who Brandon really is while trying to save her uncle’s band. This was definitely more than a budding romance between Tess and Brandon though. I believe this was more so about Tess letting people in finally after experiencing grief and loss.

I enjoyed the story being around Carnival and that it took place in Trinidad & Tobago. I would definitely read this one again!

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I was very excited to read Sarah Dass’s new book! I loved her debut novel. I didnt love this as much as the first book but it was enjoyable.

I love learning about different cultures & so the workings of Trinidad’s Carnival had me locked in! The competition among the bands got intense!

The enemies to lovers trope was also a major part of the book. Tess was stressing me out though 😂

All and all, I would def recommend this

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This was a cute, frenemies to lovers story! Tess and Brandon have such great chemistry. Their bickering was top tier. I loved that this was Much Ado About Nothing inspired, though I wish that the secondary were more fleshed out.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Thank you NetGalley and Balzer + Bray for giving me access to an e-arc of this lovely story! I read it at the perfect time, as I just started teaching my Romeo and Juliet unit with my 9th grade English classes. I appreciated all the nods to R&J, and I appreciated learning about Trinidadian culture through these characters. This will definitely be finding a home in my classroom library upon publication :)

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Colorful and Fun

I really enjoyed this book. I loved learning about the Trinidadian culture and Carnival traditions. The rivalry between the bands added the right amount of drama to the storyline. This book did a great job highlighting the importance of family. Tess was snarky, but still lovable. She was passionate and loyal. I really liked her character. Brandon still managed to outshine her. He was so sweet and decent. He’s the boy that we want our daughters to choose. Their enemies to lovers journey was funny and super cute.

This was such a feel good story! I gave it 4 stars. Thank you to NetGalley, HarperCollins, and Sarah Dass for this advanced copy to review. #WhenTheVibeIsRight #NetGalley

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