29 Dates

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

29 Dates is a look into how some Korean parents make sure their children find worthy mates by hiring "matchmakers" to arrange seons or dates with potential matches.  Sometimes funny, sometimes cute, and sometimes intense but still a worthwhile read.
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This book was a lot of fun to read! I enjoyed it so much! I really enjoyed getting this look into an aged down version of Korean culture, because according to the author, matchmaking doesn't usually happen until they're in their 20's. But then it wouldn't be YA, would it?

Jisu is a pretty fantastic character. She's a teen and has to deal with the pressures of getting good grades, look good for colleges, and find her perfect match, all at the same time. Not fun! Of course she doesn't meet up to all those expectations, which ends up having her shipped to the US. But she makes the most of it.

I have conflicted feelings about Austin. Because he did wrong with what he did and how he handled things, he also was pretty emotional scarred. It doesn't excuse his actions but explains them, and makes me glad that Jisu didn't have to deal with him anymore! 

There was something that was really fun, and really confusing. It was the first date that we had in the book, and it's with a guy that when we start the book proper, she's going to school with. The date apparently is in the future, and yeah, the way it cut off, wasn't looking too good! And by the end of the book, I was like, what? But then we had the full date, and yeah, that was just a lot of fun!

Such a great book, such a great read! I loved it a ton!
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I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

As an only child, Jisu’s parents have high expectations for her.  They expect high grades so that she can get into either their Korean alma mater or an American Ivy League school.  They also expect her to go on seons, blind dates arranged through a matchmaker with boys from other wealthy Korean families.  Jisu’s hobby, photography, is a waste of time to her parents.  When Jeon gets a single C at the beginning of her senior year of high school at her elite Korean school, her parents arrange for her to transfer to a private high school in San Francisco to elevate her chances of getting into a good college.  Leaving her family and friends behind and starting over again is daunting, and Jisu doesn’t even get to look forward to the seons ending; they will continue as before.  She may find just the boy for her at her school, however.

This was cute YA rom com.  I liked that the author alternated between regular chapters and conversations that Jisu had during each seon.  My main complaint would be that the book seemed to end too soon.  Couldn’t there at least have been an epilogue to show us what happens between Jisu and the guy from her 29th seon?
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I received a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. This book is a bit intense. I have never been on blind day let alone more then one. She has to deal with her family, her host family, matchmaker, the dates, friends, and school. That is a lot for anyone to deal with and even as she grows in popularity and is in the needs of some soul searching. It is a good light hearted novel to read. I have head a few other things by this author and was not disappointed with this novel.
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This was a fun, fast read. A young adult story that perfectly captures what it is like to not feel that you fit in. I was impressed by how much this author was able to teach me about culture while still telling a fun story about being a teenager finding their way through the dating world. I loved that there was a matchmaker in this story. I haven't encountered a modern matchmaking story before, so not only did I enjoy that aspect of this novel, I would love to find more novels that tackle the same topic. This author managed to spark an interest that I didn't know I had.
Melissa de la Cruz tackles racisim, complicated teenage life. dating, match making, being sent away from home for school, and a million other challenging topics.
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I received this as an earc on netgalley for an honest review. Overall this has to be one of my favorite books this year so far. Although I had a few problems with some characters I did overall enjoy the idea. I found it very entertaining and captivating. 4.5/5 stars. I highly recommend!
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I don't 100% love the way this is set up. The prologue opens with Jisu on her 29th seon, or arranged date. Then chapter one starts at the beginning of the school year in Korea with Jisu getting in trouble with her parents and being sent overseas to study. The next chapter is a transcript of seon #1, which happened back in early summer. It's followed by another present-day chapter, then flashes back to another date transcript that happened earlier. Somewhere around mid-book the transcripts from the dates catch up to the present-day actual story being told in the chapters, and it was just really disorienting to suddenly have the seon chapters be happening in the same timeline as the actual story content, where before they'd been (cute but not super relevant to the story) flashbacks. 

That being said, I really liked the story itself. I love Korean food and this book was really bad for my wallet! I kept ordering delivery from my favorite local Korean restaurant because every time Jisu goes to Dave's house in the book and Dave's mom feeds her, it made me really want to eat Korean food!! :D I do like that Melissa de la Cruz noted in the afterward that seons are typically set up for people in college/early 20's and she took some artistic liberties to have a matchmaker that arranges dates for high society high schoolers.

I loved reading about Jisu's journey to make new friends and find herself in a new country, and really enjoyed that focus more than her romantic storyline (at least until the end, when I got WAY MORE into the romance plot!) This was a quick, fairly light-hearted read that at the same time deals with some real issues. It was enjoyable, but really mostly made me hungry!
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This was lighthearted and fun, and while incredibly interesting to read about another culture, I had this nagging worry about representation. I didn’t realize the author herself isn’t Korean and so while reading I kept worrying if she’d had sensitivity readers and help in nailing the nuances of Korean culture. This is a personal concern of course, But it did make me distracted while reading! 

I found the reading of her 29 dates to be fun, but I was hoping for more development between Jisu and the love interest. Their romance happened quite quickly and I wish we would have gotten to seen more of their love story (instead of it happening off screen).
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I have been trying really hard to get back into reading after working at a book store for 3 years. Nothing will kill the joy you experience than having people shove books you are not even remotely interested in down your throat  when you are already working 2 jobs and helping your mom raise your siblings. 

So, I was excited to read another book about Korean culture and requested this as soon as I saw it. It has taken me MONTHS to get into this book. MONTHS. Everything felt forced and awkward and I was not able to finish it prior to release. So now I am listening to the audio book, which if possible, seems even more awkward. I want to state here and now that while I am grateful for the oppurtunity the NetGalley gives to readers like me, I could not finish this book. I spent 15 minutes cry laughing because Jisu is going on a date with Lee Taemin. Lee Taemin? From Shinee? One of the most popular Kpop artists? Did you just google "Korean names" Melissa de la Cruz? Oh gosh. I'm still laughing. This is too rich. 

Maybe I will get around to completing the book sometime soon but in comparison to all the books I have read with Asian characters and backdrops recently, this one has truly paled in comparison. 

It did give me a good laugh though!
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I love pretty much every Melissa de la Cruz book I come across. This book was the typical YA romance rom=com type book that you see frequently, but it was still a really cute read. There is a bit of cultural appropriation which I didn’t appreciate, I mean its 2019 this shouldn’t be a thing still. Korean culture is absolutely beautiful, this book did not portray it accurately.
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This book was ok... I felt it dragged on a little amd the dates were very repetitive in nature and the main character made quick judgments in very short time.
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Unfortunately, this book was not quite what I expected. 

I remember loving Melissa de la Cruz's books growing up, and the sound of this matchmaking story sounded like a really unique take on a romance book! However, I quickly realized that this book focused less on the romance and proved to be more of a coming of age story. 

I felt as though everything was really rushed, and surface level. Some of the events that occur in the story just aren't realistic or believable, which ended up taking away from the story for me.
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Somehow just as much and not as much romance as I expected. Everything felt very surface level, from the move to her feelings for Austin. Overall, not my kind of book, but I definitely see the audience for it.
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I have such grand reading plans over my break, I literally can not wait! However, I recently (last night) finished reading 29 Dates by Melissa De La Cruz, now I first want to apologize because this book should not have taken me this long to read but work has been taking up way too much of my time lately and whenever I go to read anything I just end up falling asleep. However, I finally have things set up for a while with work and now I am free to read at night again!


In this book, we meet Jisu a girl who lives in Korea with her parents and is feeling lots of pressure from them to be the best. She goes to one of the top schools in Korea and is expected by her family to get into one of the best colleges. However, Jisu is not doing so great at school, her grades are sub-par at best, she is spending more time on friends and her favorite hobby (photography) than her parents would like, and she is skipping Seons. Seons are where Jisu is set up by the matchmaker Ms. Moon on dates to find the perfect future high powered husband. However, after a bad test grade and a skipped date, Jisu’s parents have had enough and they send her to America to live with a host family and attend a prestigious school there, one they think she will have a better chance with. Jisu is devasted by this sudden move but once in San Fransico with her new host family, she finds so many new adventures, dates, and even maybe love on her own.

I have read many Melissa De La Cruz books and I really enjoy them. I think her stories are interesting and I will always be up for trying her new books. I was fortunate enough to be given this book as an ebook ARC on NetGalley a few days before it was published and I started it almost right away. I really loved this story and was interested in Jisu’s culture and would have loved to see more of her in Korea! I gave this book four and a half stars on Goodreads!
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I really liked this slightly nontraditional YA romance. The concept of arranged dating/ matchmaking intrigues me. Very speedy read with a great ending.
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The title of the book makes me think it’s more of a romance, but I think it’s more of a book of teen self-growth and discovery.  The main character has to wrestle with her parents’ expectations for her life and what her passions are. Great themes for young readers to read through. If you’re looking for more of a YA romance, this book isn’t quite it.
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*I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book. All thought and opinions are my own.*
2.5 stars

I remember reading some of Melissa de la Cruz's books back when I was in high school. My fond memories of those books was what prompted me to pick this one up-- that and the matchmaking aspect sounded unique. 
Unfortunately, it seems I am no longer a fan of this writing. I felt such a huge disconnect from the characters. Everything felt surface level and surprisingly fake. 

First off, buying an airplane ticket to send your daughter to a different country and even signing them up for school there without them knowing and then only telling them they are going the morning of the flight makes no sense. It takes a while to board flights... AND to pack!!

Also, Junior year is the most stressful year in high school. Senior year is stressful because of the applications, but colleges don't really look at senior year stuff unless your on the waitlist and such -- or so I'm told. Unless you're in a country where they take entrance exams to get into university (like South Korea), then things are a bit different.

Jisu's feelings never felt solid to me. She likes Austin, but doesn't. She likes other guys, but then feels more indifferent towards them. This I can forgive though because she's 17. The heart is still learning in high school and so this felt somewhat believable, but I'm not convinced with the ending. 
I wish there was more about Jisu adjusting to living in America. Sure, she says she's fluent in English, but there is a huge difference in learning and speaking English outside America or other native English-speaking countries. Jisu knew slang and a few other tidbits I found strange. Yes, she watches American makeup tutorials (really??? When Korea has better products and a completely different style??), but I don't think she'd pick things up so naturally before getting to America. 

I did like the diverse cast and taking down the racist classmate. The parts I enjoyed the most were the date scripts. At first I thought they were text messages, so that was an awkward start... but once I knew they were at a place together, I kind of liked the format. Anyhow, there is some awesome conversation in those parts. 

All in all, this isn't a book for me and I know that. I do have a few people in mind I might recommend this to: ones looking for relationship-drama, but besides them I probably won't recommend this to many people.
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This was such a fun read. The characters were likable and relatable and I really connected with the characters. 

This is the story of Jisu, who is sent by her parents to San Francisco for her senior year...I CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE THAT!!!

On top of going to a new school, living with strangers, having to make new friends, make good grades and apply to college ...Jisu also has to go on randomly set up blind dates. 

This was such a fun read.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

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I always like reading books based on other cultures to give me an insight on what other cultures believe. This one confused me a little bit, mainly because it's about a Korean but the author isn't Korean and based on other reviews, she got some of the culture wrong. I still enjoyed parts of the book, but I don't feel like I got the right picture.
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4 out of 5 stars
Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Though I did watch the show based off The Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz, I’m ashamed to say that this is my first and only book that I have ever read from the acclaimed author; though I do own Blue Bloods. Having confessed that, her new novel 29 Dates was very satisfying as a first read!

29 Dates follows a girl named Jisu who is one day uprooted from her life in South Korea and sent across the Pacific to live with a host family in California where she’s expected to fit in to a whole new school for her senior year, adding to the already distressing time of applying to college. On top of all of that, her parents insist she continue to go on the seons she started while in South Korea. Reluctantly agreeing, Jisu manages to juggle seons, senior year, applying to college, her parents heavy expectations for her and their disappointment when she doesn’t live up to said expectations, all while somehow making time to keep a social life and her hobby of photography. She easily makes a few friends along the way and, funnily enough, starts paying attention to a couple boys even though she’s (almost) sure she is sick of that kind of stuff because of the dates she’s forced to go on to please her parents. 

While this was swift and sweet read that kept me entertained, as a contemporary romance I was a smidge disappointed in the lack of actual romance in 29 Dates once Jisu finally ended up with the guy she’s meant to be with. I think it was only about a chapter and a half at the end and I would’ve liked to see a bit more since I was rooting for the couple; even just an epilogue with a glimpse of them both living that college life would have sufficed. Even though the romance was condensed, it wasn’t disappointing. Their friendship throughout the book is lovable and makes for a good foundation to build a charming romance on. He is exactly what you kept hoping for her to find on a seon, making it actually perfect that he was her 29th and last one despite it being her unlucky number—she considers 9 unlucky and therefore any number ending in 9. Something I really, truly enjoyed the most in 29 Dates was the relationship with her haraboji (grandfather). He was the absolute sweetest, most encouraging grandfather ever and I found that I was smiling to myself with every interaction they had. I definitely felt the love and warmth coming through the pages each time they were together. While I did admire her parents for wanting a good life for her, they just couldn’t hold my heart as much as her haraboji did. As for the friendships in this book, I really enjoyed reading her relationships with Euni and Min, but also Tiffany, Jamie and Hiba. They all seemed like the type of friends every girl wishes she had growing up and they honestly reminded me of my own. Of the new friends she made in California, Hiba one hundred, no, one thousand percent stole my heart AND the scene in which she first appears—make sure to keep an eye open for her awesomeness. 

Speaking of the seons, if you don’t know what they are, in real life they are like blind dates for women in South Korea who are in their thirties and looking to settle down. They are typically arranged by the parents through a matchmaker, relative or family friend with suitable partners in mind. If the two who are set up meet and like each other they will then begin dating with marriage in mind. A seon is described as a type of business transaction. In the book each one is written in a sort of chat message format that was actually very creative to me because I could see myself losing interest reading a drawn out date for every single guy she met. The way de la Cruz set it up was brief and engaging, giving you the gist of the date and allowing you to read the mood without distracting from the rest of the story. Most of Jisu’s dates were quite douche-y—pardon my French—and the audacity of some of them left me speechless. I sat there wide-eyed as I stared at the page while reading a few of them, feeling pity for Jisu—and admittedly a bit sympathetic but anxious for myself who is recently on the dating scene, crying inside at the thought of having to sit through possible encounters like that. Jisu came off a bit rude to me, or maybe dismissive is a better fit, towards a couple of her later dates that weren’t the worst—or at least hadn’t shown their true colors yet. But understandably, if I was a senior stressfully waiting for college acceptances or denials and being forced to go on dates, most of which were with intolerable men, I think I’d be pretty disgruntled. She handled it gracefully compared to how I imagine I would have some of them. 

I’d like to note that realistically seons are not normally done for teenagers and I know de la Cruz got some criticism for that in other reviews, amongst other things and I’ll get to that, but I think that’s what makes the novel interesting—seeing what it would be like for a teenage girl to have that pressure put on her. It is fiction after all, and while it is part of a culture we’re not reading a nonfiction text or even historical fiction. I read in another review that this novel just didn’t seem to have heart and the kind of authenticity it would’ve if an actual Korean had written it and I have to disagree with that. I thought it was lovely, and of course, were it written by a Korean author it may well have had some more heart and authenticity to it because they know best their way of life and how to portray it. That being said and as a writer myself, I still don’t believe authors of any ethnicity should just stick to writing their own. As long as it’s not disrespectful and is researched properly and thoroughly beforehand I don’t see the harm in someone writing about anything in all the world, no matter the ethnicity, topic, etc. It’s a fiction author’s job to explore the unknown and find a story in any and everything. 

To step off my soapbox and sum up this review, if you are easily offended by an author not of South Korean heritage writing about such, then I would skip 29 Dates as it is probably not the book for you. But if you can take it as what it is, just a piece of fiction meant to be a cute and entertaining read with a bit of romance, some great friendships and characters, then go for it! I myself enjoyed it and I am looking forward to reading more from de la Cruz.
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