Cover Image: Seoulmates

Seoulmates

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Member Reviews

Based on the other reviews, I'm wondering if I might have been in the wrong headspace for this one or it's simply a YMMV situation. I found the writing to be readable but not spectacular, the characters and relationships to be somewhat one-dimensional and lacking in chemistry (the glimpses into the mothers' POVs where they basically just giggle to each other about how finally their kids are falling in love like they were meant to were especially awkward), and the pacing - especially the ending - to be very strange, with major issues being resolved with one conversation (or sometimes barely that - Hannah's excuses/explanations that Nate only bullied Jacob because he was such a big kids that he felt like he HAD to be a bully don't track with either his jerk behavior through the book or the speed of the "resolution" to his character, not to mention that Hannah's baggage related to her dad's abandonment is never really resolved beyond the one sentence that he visited and it was nice).

The most interesting parts to me were the heavier discussions about things like how to love your immigrant or second-generation identity or the ethics of the Korean style of talent cultivation and management, but the book actually avoided really pushing in on those topics; for example, Hannah's negative or avoidant attitude toward Korean culture certainly shifts through the course of the book, but she doesn't seem to do any examination of what it was about her "friends" or the dominant culture which made her ashamed of those things and only seems to be able to accept those elements of herself when they're more generally accepted within her circles (which, for the record, seem to have a particularly high incidence of K-pop/K-drama fans, but maybe I just don't hang out with the right people). And even as the narrative recognizes the dangers and damaging elements of stan culture, particularly in terms of Korean talent, it doesn't seem to actually take a stand in the end on the issue - Jacob doesn't like it and gets out, and that's the end.

I think it's a fine, light read, especially for those who like K-pop/K-dramas or have enjoyed previous books related to Korean talent culture like I'll Be the One, Somewhere Only We Know, Shine, or XOXO, but it didn't really stand up for me.
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It was such a cute book, I really enjoyed it! It was friends to lovers (one of my favorite tropes) done to perfection.

The story is told in both Hannah and Jacob’s POV which I love with romances. Something special about being able to see it play out from both sides. I will say I tended to like Hannah’s chapters more but I still enjoyed Jacob’s especially as we got further into the story. 

Hannah and Jacob’s chemistry and banter was amazing. They were also both relatable and likable characters so I definitely found it easy to be invested in them and their love story. 

Young adult romance is something I don’t read in abundance because I feel it can be hard to get right. Especially striking that perfect balance of immaturity and maturity of characters at that age. Susan Lee did a fantastic job with it though! 

Definitely going to be on the lookout for future books from Susan Lee!
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I can’t say I’m a huge YA (as in HS age) romance fan, but I don’t turn my nose up at it either. I have HS-aged kids, so it’s sometimes too dramatic for my tastes because I live that daily, and reading is my escape. That said, the cover caught my eye, the blurb was intriguing, and I’m always willing to give a debut novel a try. I was pleasantly surprised by the author’s writing. The characters were great. I loved the banter between our main characters and how over-the-top the mothers could be. And even with some truly LOL moments, this story was packed to the brim with emotion. There were times when I felt the miscommunication between the main characters was a bit over the top, but at the same time, teens this age get it wrong more often than not, so it wasn’t unrealistic, either. 

All in all, I was very entertained by the story, loved the characters (even the “evil” ones), and was held captive by the witty banter and the emotional aspects. I am looking forward to what’s next from Susan Lee!
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Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the eARC to read in exchange for an honest review!

"Seoulmates" was beyond sweet and took my heart on an emotional roller coaster of a ride.

Hannah and Jacob were childhood best friends. They were inseparable, had each other’s back, and knew each other well. Then Jacob and his family left for Korea and never came back. Jump forward three years to the summer before senior year of high school, and circumstances have brought the Kims back. The two ex-best friends find themselves in reluctant proximity and spending one unforgettable summer together.

Hannah and Jacob’s journey to reconnect was difficult but meaningful as they both had a lot of emotional baggage to unpack. Hannah is torn between identities - either being American, Koren-American, Korean, or herself. One or all just doesn’t seem to be enough to keep those who matter most to her from leaving. Jacob took on a lot of responsibility after his father died to keep his family financially afloat and at the expense of his own happiness. Life as a K-drama star is nearing a breaking point. Caught between who he was, the “character” and facade he constantly has to portray, and who he’d like to be, Jacob is lost without direction or a safety net should things come crumbling down.

I was enthralled by this story and wished wholeheartedly an HEA for Jacob and Hannah. Because together they were their most authentic selves. Apart they struggled to make sense of their identity. Theirs is the kind of friendship one is lucky to have. There’s a pureness that isn’t easily replicated - not without work, mutual respect, a willingness to communicate, understanding, and empathy.

Two other endearing characters I enjoyed were Ms. Cho and Ms. Kim, who are also long-time best friends that predates Hannah and Jacob’s birth. I loved their sometimes not so subtle support for their kids to rekindle their friendship and become more than “just friends.” I liked that for the most part they stayed back and allowed Jacob and Hannah to work through their problems. Only intervening at the right, most critical times.

I thought the main characters communicated fairly well despite moments of pettiness and anger. They at least heard each other even if they didn’t like what they were hearing and had to acknowledge feelings. While they grew apart and became different people, they recognized that what they had was special and maybe worth trying to rebuild to fit who they’ve become.

I didn’t like how dismissive Hannah was of Jacob’s feelings about her formerly dating someone who had mercilessly bullied him for years. Yes, some bullies do end up remorseful and change for the better, but for some victims of bullying, the damage doesn’t go away that easily if at all. So it seemed insensitive that Hannah kept defending Nate.

I find it hard to believe (and a bit naive) that Hannah and Jacob couldn’t have predicted to a certain extent what would happen if she posted pictures of them on social media. And it’s kind of unrealistic that they were able to do so much outside or at home without being more frequently bombarded by fans and paparazzi, even if Jacob is only an upcoming K-drama star and level of popularity of K-dramas and K-pop is starting to pick up in America.

I also still wonder why Jacob didn’t look into other jobs if he was feeling rundown and alone because of his job. I understand it was all spur of the moment and paid well, that he felt pressured and defeated, but he made it seem like it was the only option or his family would end up on the streets, which realistically has a very low chance of happening. Jacob may not have known what he wanted, but he had options.

All things considered, I loved "Seoulmates." It made me happy, sad, and smile often. Hannah and Jacob were such great main characters and so cute together, especially when romantic feelings began to emerge. I became quickly invested in their personal journeys to discover their own self-worth, their identity, and what truly brings them joy. The love between them was wonderfully wholesome.

"Seoulmates" was a true page-turner, a gem of a story that I’m so glad I got a chance to read.

CW: past bullying, stereotyping
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I absolutely love watching K-dramas.  That love lead me here, to this book, because a fellow K-drama lover met this author and mentioned her book.  I haven't read a book like this before and I was so curious!  

Curiosity satisfied!  What a cute story.  Hannah and Jacob have a history that is so heartwarming and also complicated.  Jacob's family move to Korea left them both with misunderstandings and hurts that have to be addressed before they can move on after reuniting.  It all felt very natural and normal for two teenagers.  I loved all their adventures and the rebuilding of their friendship that turned to more.  Hannah had a journey to self love and an acceptance of who she is.  Jacob learned to stand up for himself and his family.  They both learned to trust and stand up for each other.  It was all very satisfying as a reader.  This could easily be turned into a cute teenage movie!

My only complaint would be the level and frequency of swearing in this book.  It's a personal preference and one I realize is not shared by everyone.  If this book were a movie it would be rated R for language.

Content:  swearing, kissing, making out, alcohol use by minors at a party.

-I received a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions expressed are my own.
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I tend to prefer enemies to lovers/rivals to lovers when it comes to romances. But Hannah and Jacob have me convinced that I have underestimated the friends to lovers trope. I adore them.

For fans of Korean dramas and the friends-to-lovers trope, this book is for you. A tale of love, family, friendship, and forgiveness this book was an absolute pleasure from start to finish.
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I really enjoyed this book by Susan Lee. 

Hannah is at a perfect age in life where relationships that are broken off or renewed are a big deal. Hannah's trying to get back together with Nate feels like a big YA cliche, but it's still fun to read.

I loved that Jacob Kim enters the picture (Hannah’s best friend from childhood) and is the personification of what Hannah has not embraced from her Korean culture. Jacob has become a successful Korean drama actor in order to help out his family financially but it's taken a toll on his life (mentally and physically), because of demanding costars, studios and managers. So he ends up staying at Hannah's mothers house to recover and helps Hannah gain cont with Nate again.

The inevitably of Jacob and Hannah slowly getting together was fantastic. Because they had prior history and had to resolve how their friendship had ended when Jacob's family moved to Korea, the resolution and moving past what had happened before was super mature on both their parts.

Thank you so much to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for giving me a copy for exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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That was a great book. I loved the relationship between Hannah and Jacob and what they learned about themselves over the summer. They both had a very bad habit that they needed to look at in order to actually grow and change. They had a lot of chemistry as friends and as more and made the book super easy to read. Definitely a fun read to add to your TBR. Still completely obsessed with how gorgeous the cover is!
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I went in knowing nothing but a friend said this was so good. They were right. This story of a K-drama star and his childhood bestie reuniting after he moved back to Korea was so swoony. I loved their angst and the sweet tension between them. I loved their individual stories and their growth together and individually. It’s fast and light and a little hint of steamy. And it was the perfect read for me when I picked it up. 

I listened to most and finished in print. Both were excellent.
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The Quick Cut: A teen girl finds her summer plans turned upside down when her childhood best friend turned K-Drama star comes to visit for the summer. Drama ensues when feelings spark. 

A Real Review:
 Thank you to Inkyard Press for providing the ARC for an honest review. 

 Korean culture based stories have been a hot trend in YA literature for quite some time now. Whether it be K-pop or K-Drama, the unique sense of style and emotion has captured the interest of people across the globe. In this story centered around two Korean teens, you will find yourself pulled into their lives as old feelings return between two former best friends. 

 Hannah had her summer planned out when it got ruined by news from her mother: her best friend and family will be coming to spend the summer with them. That includes Jacob, Hannah's childhood best friend who left suddenly three years ago. Now he's a K-Drama star on the hottest show, with plenty of attention. Will her new summer visitors make her life more complicated? Or more exciting in a way she never expected? 

 I loved reading this story because it pulls you in from the start. The characters feel so real and emotions so strong that it makes you feel like you know them. If you're a contemporary romance fan, you'll thoroughly enjoy the story and the feelings involved. 

 Hannah is a girl who doesn't fit in with the others at school. While her classmates may enjoy Korean music and shows, they don't fully embrace the culture she was born to. She just wants to fit in, no matter how much her classmates point out how different she is. Seeing her learn to embrace who she is and not take the scraps people offer her makes you happy to see her stand up for better. 

 Jacob is in a difficult spot at such a young age. He was thrust into a career and celebrity status he never really wanted to support his family. The toll his career has taken is nothing short than soul sucking and breaking his ankle turns out to be the life raft he needed. Seeing him stand up for himself in many ways mirrors what Hannah is going through, in a different way. It's understandable why these two feel pulled to each other. 

 A Korean infused contemporary romance that will steal your heart. 

My rating: 5 out of 5
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Seoulmates was such a sweet romance with intense moments between friends who've been at a distance for far too long. The characters felt so real and deep with every passing moment, and also, just going to point out that Jin-Hee supremacy is the life for meeee.
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Seoulmates was EVERYTHING! Susan Lee wrote a story that was so well written I found myself flying through the pages, unable to put the book down, pondering what would happen next. My favorite piece of this entire story was how believable the characters were. 

The writing is clear and clean, and very immersive. The book hums along at a good clip, but the pacing makes sure we're given time to breathe between plot-driven moments. The story was absolutely engaging and the work that went into the settings was noticeable and superb. I felt absolutely transported and I'm so incredibly glad I was able to read an arc of this story.
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This is a cute, friends-to-lovers YA romance touching on love, identity, and culture that will appeal to K-pop and K-drama fans (like yours truly), but readers who don't have that knowledge base will still enjoy it. I appreciated that Susan Lee dispels some of the idol glamor by detailing the miserable hours and control of the lifestyle and that she integrates it so well into Jacob and Hannah's story. Their romance is sweet but steamy, and the transition is done pretty well despite a couple of hiccups. Some of the miscommunication is overblown, but that fits in with the K-drama-esque plotline. As an added bonus, all the family members (Jacob's mom and sister and Hannah's mom) are such supportive, er, supporting characters. I'd love to read more about them!

Grab this if you've read and enjoyed books like Kat Cho's Once Upon a K-Prom or Alice Lin's Fireworks.
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The author did a great job developing these characters and giving them each a unique voice. The first chapter immediately hooked me, was funny and felt so high school (in a good way). I do not know much about K-pop or K-drama but fans and non-fans alike will enjoy this and even learn a little more about that world.  Both mothers added some humor and warmth to the story and the romance was really cute!


🥰really liked 

🤟friends to enemies to lovers, mature YA, dual POV

📚 The Charmed List, Better than the Movies
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This was so much better than I thought it was going to be! I really did not know what to expect when I first started reading this. I love the connection between Hannah and Jacob from the beginning, plus their story was so relatable and believable. This book had the charm, intrigue and storytelling to keep me in interested. It also gave me a better understanding and appreciation of the Korean culture and the pressures they feel to feel "American."

I do love some good K-pop and any drama, Korean or not is enough to be entertaining for me. At times this was YA and read that way, but there were some very adult issues. I was very impressed by this book and this author. I would definitely read more from her in the future. Recommended!

Thanks to NetGalley, Susan Lee and Inkyard Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 Available on 9/20/22
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This was super cute. I love Hannah and Jacob and it was great reading about their reconnection. I haven’t read too many childhood friends to lovers stories and I think this may convince me to look for more!

Thank you to NetGalley for my digital ARC!
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If i'm going to be honest, I didn't know how I was going to like this book because there was a lot based on K-Pop and K-Drama, which isn't really my cup of tea, but boy, Seoulmates by Susan Lee was absolutely amazing. The cover really caught my attention, but the blurb for the book sold me. I was instantly drawn to the story, and the characters. Seoulmates is a childhood friends to lovers trope. This book made my heart ache a little bit, but it made me smile like an idiot. I laughed, I cried, I smiled, overall it was just a beautiful story of two teenagers reuniting and eventually falling in love. I was so hooked to the story I couldn't put it down. If Susan Lee writes more books, i'll be so happy. Please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book, you will NOT be disappointed. Seoulmates was just a beautiful story that I couldn't help but fall in love with. Like I said before, I didn't know how I was going to feel about this book, but after reading it, I LOVED IT SO MUCH!!!!! THANK YOU TO NETGALLEY AND INKYARD PRESS FOR AN ARC OF THIS BOOK!!!! Her ex-boyfriend wants her back. Her former best friend is in town. When did Hannah's life become a K-drama? Hannah Cho is a Korean American, but doesn't want to known as a "cool Korean". Hannah doesn't watch K-drama's, or listen to K-pop so her group of friends question how can she be Korean and not like that stuff. Hannah had the next year all planned out, the perfect summer with her boyfriend, Nate, and then a fun senior year with their friends. But one night, when Nate is extremely intoxicated, he breaks up with Hannah. Hannah is so sweet, trying to help Nate while he's sitting next to the toilet throwing up, he just pissed me off. Nate does what everyone else in Hannah's life does, he left her. Nate claimed that he and Hannah had nothing in common. Hannah had the perfect summer planned, spend time with Nate, go to bible study, and lifeguard camp. Nate and Hannah's friends are so obsessed with K-pop and K-dramas, but Hannah isn't interested in that type of stuff. Someone who does know K-dramas, and is actually staring in one is, Jacob Kim, Hannah's former best friend. Hannah and Jacob were best friends since they were little kids, but one day Jacob's family just up and leaves for Korea. Hannah and Jacob tried to talk everyday, but Jacob never came back to Hannah like he promised. Hannah decides to cut off all communication with Jacob so she didn't have to be reminded of the hurt he left behind. One morning, Hannah's mom announces that Jacob, his mom, and his sister are going to be staying with them for a few weeks in San Diego. During Jacob's stay he wants to try and reconcile with Hannah and figure out what happened years back. Jacob has a list he wants to complete while he's in San Diego, but that is only if Hannah agrees to drive him around. Jacob and Hannah start spending more of their time together, and start developing feelings for each other. Hannah doesn't want to get too close with Jacob because she knows he'll be leaving again. One night, Hannah finds herself watching the K-drama that Jacob is staring in. The K-drama that Jacob is in makes Hannah sob. I love how Hannah was willing to forgive Jacob. Hannah and Jacob were like two pieces of the missing puzzle. Hannah can hold grudges, but she doesn't want to hold grudges forever. I absolutely adored Hannah and Jacob, but Nate pissed me off the way he broke up with Hannah. Like, I get a relationship might not work if you have nothing in common, but Hannah was there trying to soothe Nate while he's being intoxicated. AHHHHH, I JUST LOVED THIS STORY SO MUCH!!!!!
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Seoulmates is a sweet YA contemporary tale for K-drama and K-pop fans. In terms of both YA and K-drama tropes, it ticks all the boxes. That makes it fairly predictable, but it was cute enough I was willing to let that go and simply sink in and enjoy the action. On a similar note, the plot is also a little overblown at times, but again, that's just part of the K-drama fun. This is perhaps not a book I'd ever feel the need to keep forever on my shelf and re-read, but it was one I enjoyed in the moment and that I'm glad I had the opportunity to read once. I did also like the fact that it explored the darker side of fandom/stardom in South Korea without trying to sugarcoat Jacob's life as an upcoming K-drama actor. Hannah and Jacob are characters who I'm sure will garner plenty of fans among YA readers, so I definitely recommend this to lovers of YA contemporary romance, especially if you also like K-drama and/or K-pop. It gets 4 stars from me.
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This is a cute read about the summer before senior year. Hannah is all ready for her perfect summer. But, her boyfriend Nate breaks up with her saying they don’t have anything in common and Jacob, her ex best friend is back in town on break from his job as a rising K-drama star. Funny since Hannah isn’t a K-drama fan and her ex boyfriend Nate is. Will Hannah win back Nate? Will Jacob and Hannah renew their friendship and perhaps become something more than just friends.  

I did appreciate the details of the family dynamics for a Korean family both in America and abroad. I guess because I am a K-drama fan and understood the Korean traditions and how the two Korean Moms were rooting for their kids to get together it made the book entertaining. 
 
I think this book would definitely be great for adult K-drama fans, but also for any romance reader who just likes a sweet second chance romance.
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I've read a fair amount of K-pop/k-drama famous person-nonfamous person relationship tropes over the last year or two, and this was by far the best one! Lee really honed in on the crux of teen emotions--quick to anger, quick to reconnect, quick to love. 

There was a lot of cheesiness in this book, but it made for a very cute, swoony read without seeming pedantic or juvenile. The balance of profanity and sexual content was realistic for the age group. Despite how quickly the story moved, the relationship between Hannah and Jacob did not feel like insta-love because of their deep and believable past. 

Ultimately, this book felt like it just scratched the surface. It was a very quick, light, easy read. I didn't feel any heart hurt nor am I particularly connected to any character, but it's a great gateway read for those who want something fast, fun, and low-stakes. Some of the drama was pretty keyed up for no reason--Hannah's immediate visceral anger, Jacob's character as a whole (the allergies thing, having a timid personality, not even attempting to advocate for himself), as well as the fake Minky relationship and the easily fixed miscommunication. However, I don't believe these specific gripes will bother teen readers.

I wish the book delved more into Korean culture; one thing I haven't seen touched on in other similar titles is how Korean Christianity views sexuality. I would have loved to see more of Hannah's relationship with her mom and her mother's church and her father. 

This novel of course pairs well with XOXO by Axie Oh and Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho. It gave me Parachutes by Kelly Yang vibes as well, between the California setting, the beach trips, the sightseeing, and the familial relationships. A great addition to a beach reads display as well as an all-year-round contemporary type of book. 

A great point to note is that this book spans the entire YA age range. It's super accessible for younger YA readers, but older teens won't be bored.
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