Hart & Seoul

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Ummm... Don't know what to say. I had been very excited to read this book when i first picked it up. I have been a long time fan of Korean pop-culture so this obviously got me excited. But unfortunately, it didn't work for me. I couldn't connect with the characters. It seemed like there was a lot if inconsistency in their behaviour at different points in the story. Maybe if I hadn't hyped myself too much, i would have enjoyed the book.

But, still, let's appreciate that cute cover!
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Review will be posted on April 12th on https://gabriellarambles.blogspot.com/2020/04/review-hart-seoul-by-kristen-burnham.html

So while I've been gone these past couple of years one thing that I really became interested in is K-Pop and k-dramas.  When I read the summary of this book I just knew I had to read it and I am so glad I did! Guys this book made me so incredibly happy! I loved the idea of the book and the actual story itself was so amazing and cute.  

Let me just say that I have yet to read a book like this -- one that really incorporates k-pop and k-dramas like this one did. I loved all the references to Korean Food and Korean words and when Lee and Merri were watching k-dramas that I have also seen, I was in heaven. Living in America I know very few people around me  who are also interested in K-pop bands, so I tend to forget how big of a deal K-pop stars are and the huge fan base they can have. With that being said, it was so interesting to get to experience how a member of a k-pop group may feel. We really got see what it's possibly like under the pressure of being such a huge star and hardly having any privacy. Granted it's fiction, but I am sure that being a K-pop star in real life is even more pressure than displayed here. Even so, I really connected with the characters in this novel.  

Character development is such an essential part of a good story and I can safely say, there was ALOT of character development going on here. When we are first introduced to Lee, he definitely was not a likeable character in the slightest. He was arrogant, stuck up and just honestly, a dick. However, as the novel continues, more and more layers are pulled back about this character and at some point he really turns into a good guy. Merri does not have as much character development as Lee, but I do feel like she also goes under a transformation of being self aware of her mistakes she's made and just about forgiveness.  There is not any supporting character development since its entirely focused on Lee and Merri,but I can't say that I'm mad about that choice in the slightest! I'm honestly mad that I finished so quick. Now i just want to re-read it all over again UGH.

So here is the one issue I had with this book and the reason why it did not get 5 stars.. When I started reading this book there was something about the writing style at the beginning that I just really did not connect with. It was very slow, and to me there was a lot of missing details. I kept asking myself about details and was this mention or was that mention and it caused me to re-read a lot at the beginning thinking I missed something, but I didn't. The first few chapters I really started to think this was going to be a DNF for me. I hated the way that Lee was an arrogant jerk, I didn't really relate to Merri and the cheating scandal was not a surprise in the slightest. I was very uninterested and annoyed, but I kept reading hoping that it would get better because I really loved the idea of this plot and I'm so glad I did! At some point everything just clicked. The writing became more in depth, character transformation started to happen and it became even steamy at some points. Everything just started to flow and this book became a fun, on the edge of your seat read. 

Overall, I LOVE THIS BOOK. While there was a little  bit of a rocky start, if you work pass it and stay through it, I promise you, you will not be dissapointed! You'll be grinning ear to ear and binge watching K-dramas at the end of all of this! 

I highly recommend this book if you like:

💗Contemporary YA

💗Swoony Worthy Romance

💗Diverse characters

💗 Interested in K-pop
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I found the Korean romanization to be somewhat inaccurate. I found the main character to be incredibly ignorant to the point of making me uncomfortable. I understand that you need to teach the reader things they might understand but I felt like she was just using the male lead as a form of Wikipedia making no effort what so ever on her part.
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This book is like one of those Netflix movies that you watch because there's nothing else that looks interesting and you want to watch something where you don't have to think at all. You know it's not great, in fact there's a lot that's bad, but it will entertain you for now. Thats this book. 
The writing can get pretty cringe-worthy. If I had to read "Deh" one more time, i swear... It's like this book was written about kpop but not meant for people who are actually into and immersed in the kpop world already. For example, the auditioning, training, and debut process that was mentioned was all wrong. Very juvenile in that aspect. The Korean used could have been taken straight from Google translate. For this reason, I feel like this book was written for very young teens/tweens at best.
The little notation/tribute to Kim Jong Hyun (RIP) at the end was really nice and I can see how that might have inspired Burnham to write this book.  Somehow it made me overlook the glaring problems this book had and attempt to see it for the Korean culture appreciation it was meant to be.
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2.5 stars rounded up to 3. A bit of a BTS fan fic and Hallmark movie. I did enjoy it even with its corniness and wish fulfillment. Glad she went the rom com route (the whole sprained ankle ordeal and seeing your bf kiss someone else felt like K drama moments) and not the sad suicide route. Hope she writes more novels with Asian love interests.
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Are you K-pop and K-drama fan? If yes, then this book is for you.

Being a keen fan of k-pop, I enjoyed every moment of this Book. I don’t how to describe how good this book is.
I don’t know where to begin. First of all the characters. Merilee aka Meri I adore her very much and yes she’s into art express here feeling through art. Then there’s Lee, I don’t know what to say about him. Lee is such a sweetheart. There was fangirling Moment also when the author mentioned k-pop groups like BTS, EXO and Girls Generation, that was unexpected for me.

There were moments where Lee was continuously showing his Korean root. There were some moments in the book where I felt like I was watching k-drama (not that I’m complaining). The author brings up the issue of mental health like depression and anxiety.

I wanted to say it again if you are k-pop or k-drama fan then you give this book a try.
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The HEA ending was SUPER abrupt and there were a couple of times it felt a little disingenuous (culture appropriation?) But overall it was super cute and Lee was fantastic and Merri was sweet.

But wait a hot minute, there is a sequel?? Say what now.
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I knew this book was about K pop but I’ve never listened to K pop so this was different to any book I’ve read. I really enjoyed the main characters voice and how strong minded they were but the writing style threw me as I thought it sounded more new adult. The Korean food was making me so hungry which is a good sign as it shows how the description was so good that I could picture every item of food. This book in my opinion is better for any k pop fans as there was k pop references that I didn’t fully understand except I know who bts is. Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this book.
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It was addicting and captivating even tho it was a totally cheesy guiltily pleasure book that I didn’t know I needed! The writing had my hooked from the first page!
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I don't really read YA romance books to be completely honest but this book had me at Seoul. I'm very new in the whole k-pop thing and I yet have to watch a k-drama but this book spoke to me because I wanted to read something about this. 

First off, this book has many Korean cultural references which I can't tell if they're right or wrong so I'm not gonna get into this part. The only thing I can tell you is...damn this made me hungry as hell. I never had Korean food and I really badly wanna try it. Somebody, please take me to a Korean restaurant. There's also references to k-dramas and k-pop (obviously) which people might enjoy in this book.

Okay, now to the story. I don't really have to give a summary because, well, you can read it on the Goodreads page of the book obviously but long story short, we have Merri, who lives with her dad while her mom left them a year ago. She has a boyfriend and a best friend and a friend in Australia (where she had been for 2 months prior to the start of the book). We start with her watching a car drive into the neighbours' driveway and a Korean woman and a younger Korean guy get out of the car and they are in a deep argument and here's where the story starts. Merri doesn't know but we know that he's a k-pop star from the well-known band Thunder and that he's out in hiding for unknown reasons. Those two meet and get to know each other and a lot of shit happens and yeah. That's the main plot of this story.

Now, when I finished this book I was left speechless. Again, I am very new into this k-pop stuff and I don't really know what's going on behind the scenes and how everything works over there. However, if the things happening in this book are legit common things happening to k-pop stars then I'm appaled and sad. I can not believe what they have to go through to be "perfect" for the managers and the fans. This book, again, not sure how legit, gives you a glimpse behind the scenes of a k-pop star and how badly it can make them feel emotionally and mentally. I felt bad for Lee all through the book and I just wanted to hug and protect him. Not to mention, the fans. Crazy is an understatement. Again, not gonna say all the fans are. The author also wrote in her authors note that Lee is loosely based on the events that happened with the guy from SHINee who successfully committed suicide so I sure hope she made proper research to get this accurate. 

To end this long ramble, I really enjoyed this book. There wasn't a lot of plot and it was a very easy read but you really just follow the characters and love them and get to know their stories. So, if you like k-pop, Korean culture, k-pop/k-drama references and cute, fluffy contemporary, you could definitely give this a try. Just be warned about some triggering stuff like suicide attempts, depression and mental health.
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TW: Suicide, Suicide Attempts

I think this book stole my Hart and Seoul.

This book was INSANE and had everything I loved. First and foremost, Kpop. Ahh the Kpop. It wasn't an overload of it which in all honesty, surprised me. It was more focused on K-culture not just the music but also the food, dramas (K-Dramas) and Korean culture. Oh and definitely the kimchi!

The story follows Merrilee Hart, a girl who wishes to become an artist against her father's wishes. A year ago, her mother left her and her dad on their own and to cope, Merrilee designs comic strips detailing her everyday life. What she doesn't expect is the arrogant and annoyingly charming nephew of her neighbour moving in next door. As they grow closer, they fall in love with each other however, Lee is keeping a secret. A secret that could change their whole relationship and each other's lives.

I loved everything about this book. I was so hooked on it I avoided my homework for about 2 days just to finish it because I was THAT addicted. I must admit, Lee, Bree and Luke were the characters that made me ridiculously addicted. Lee was arrogant and sarcastic and an absolute sweetheart. I loved him so much. I think that his love for Merrilee might've increased really quickly but it wasn't increased too quickly to annoy me. Merrilee was definitely a complex character and the stuff she went through with her so-called "friend" and "boyfriend" were so low I felt so sorry for her. In terms of her voice, it didn't really do much to me. Her voice wasn't that much different from other stories however, I still enjoyed reading from her perspective.

Now, let me talk about the worst characters in the world: Bree and Luke. I HATED them with a passion. As in, they've done something I would never ever ever forgive. But I must admit, they totally deserve each other with how cruel each of them are. Out of the two of them, Bree was the real demon. What she did at the start of the book and the end of the book made me want to literally strangle her. She was written so well that she seemed so real. The things she did seemed real it was terrifying. It felt like the situation she created was something any normal person could've potentially gone through.

It was really past page 100 when the real issues surrounding the Kpop industry came to light. The industry is really corrupt, there's sometimes abuse, starvation, depression, anxiety and even suicide. The situation and treatment of these idols is getting better but a lot still needs to be done. This book was written after SHINee's Jonghyun's successful suicide attempt which really shone a light on mental health in the Kpop industry. The author of this book herself mentioned this in her author's note at the back of the book. Mental health played a major part in this book especially when Lee was talking about the things he has been through. I won't go into this for spoiler reasons. The book also talked about plastic surgery in relation to being a Kpop idol. It didn't go super deep and dark about it but I really felt for the character who had to go through it.

Let's just say I felt a lot whilst reading this. I definitely got a lot of feels. I 100% need the sequel ASAP!

Copy given by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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This was a cute read that I enjoyed, especially all things K-Pop lol. It was enjoyable, wholesome and fun, and those who love/are curious about all things K-Pop will come to love (or at least like) as well.
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This is a quick and light hearted read. It wasn’t for me - I absolutely know nothing about K pop. I think younger teens who are more familiar with it would enjoy this one.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a sweet story about love and heartbreak. Merilee “Meri” has just returned from her summer vacation when she meets her neighbors nephew, who has come for an unexpected visit. Lee is an angry, private Korean boy and Meri is immediately infuriated by his rudeness. Meri is just fine ignoring his existence, content to return to school with her best friend and her boyfriend. That is until Meri catches them kissing. Finding herself as sullen sand angry as Lee, they form an unexpected friendship which begins to blossom into something more. Pretty soon Meri discovers that Lee is more than just a simple Korean boy, he is a favored member of an insanely popular K-pop boy band known worldwide. 

At first I struggled with this book. Lee felt very stereotypical and the depiction was not very flattering to the Korean culture. Some of that does lessen as Meri gets to know Lee better. Additionally, Lee was a somewhat flat character early on but did fill out a bit later. I wish we could have seen a reunion scene but I’ll be hopeful to see more in later books. 

 Trigger warnings- mental illness and mental health are large focuses of this book.
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It was a bit too immature for my taste. And I had a hard time getting into the book in the beginning but it soon picked up and I started enjoying it. 
It was a easy read.
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At 256 pages this was an extremely quick read. While it was fun and fast paced it was also glaringly predictable. Within the first chapter I basically had the entire book plotted out. Every single "twist" was known well in advance and it kind of made reading less enjoyable. I never really got excited over what I was reading because it was all so obvious. Everything happened exactly as you would expect it too, which is a good and bad thing. Bad because it makes it a tad bit boring, but good because you get exactly what you signed up for: A fluffy YA romance novel with occasional Korean culture.

That leads me into one of my favorite parts of this book, the Korean culture! I feel like I learned a lot of new things about Korean culture, food, and music. I enjoyed diving into the world of K-Pop and Kimchi, and I appreciate how much research the author did to make this more informative for people who have little to no knowledge of Korean culture. 

Aside from the overall predictability, the only thing I disliked about this book was the ending. I felt like this big topic was discussed for about 5 seconds, and then almost just brushed under the rug? I feel like the author had a real opportunity to discuss a very important societal topic, but didn't... I noticed there is a second book in production, which hopefully means it will be further discussed. 

Overall this would be a book I recommend to fans of K-Dramas and K-Pop, or to anyone looking for a quick and quirky YA novel.
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I will take a stand here and say, I love k-dramas. So when I got approved for a copy of this book, there was much squealing. 

This story was such a quick, enjoyable read. I spent most of my time giggling over the escapades of Merri and Lee. Their dynamic was so adorable. For the most part, things were light and fluffy, perfect for a weekend read.

However, there were some darker notes in this read as well. Which has things to say about mental health and the k-pop industry. All of which influences the characters but somehow the story remains this magical little romantic comedy in most places.

There were times in this read when things got too predictable and the side characters were a little flat and generic. They were mostly used to move the two main characters along and create very trope-like situations. But they still had me loving every minute of the k-drama type contemporary.
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I think the best way that I can describe this book is… ‘you get what it says on the tin’. 

Once you’ve read the synopsis, you pretty much know the plot inside out. If you’re going into this expecting a fun, fluffy, fast paced read with borderline too much cheese, then you won’t be disappointed. If you’re going into this expecting it to explore complex issues surrounding K-Pop idols, mental health and Korean culture then it probably isn’t the book for you. 

Despite generally enjoying this book, I did have my issues with it. I didn’t always mesh with the very simple writing style and the plot twists are remarkably predictable from the very first page, both of which definitely knocked my overall rating down and I do think this book has a lot of squandered potential in terms of where the author could have taken it; she had prime opportunity to explore the dating ban surrounding K-Pop idols, for example. Kristen Burnham does touch on the brutal K-Pop industry and the effect it has on its idols, but only very briefly, glossed over and as a means to an end. 

It isn’t groundbreaking reading material, it almost feels like the first draft of the book and if the author had gone back and explored this issue in more depth, hashed this plot point out or developed this relationship a little bit more, it could easily have been a 4/5 star read instead of a high 2/3. However, as a quick, fluffy, saccharine romance to appease the fangirl Gods…I did solidly enjoy it.
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I found this book very adorable and giddy - and yes a bit ove the top sometimes.
I really liked it, i know that there are issues that they don't talk that much about korean culture and keep saying deh, aigoo and more and i really disliked the kpop-star for a while, but he kind of grew on me. But i also got used to it, because honestly? it felt like a k-drama just in bookform, and k-dramas are supposed to be wierd, adorable, over-the top sometimes. But nontheless. I liked it :)
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I could not get into this story. I love, love, love, kdramas and Chinese dramas, and I assumed this would be close to that. It honestly fell short for me. I like the idea of a kpop star moving in next door. A hot kpop Star at that. The writing just seemed a bit too immature.
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