Cover Image: Seoulmates

Seoulmates

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Member Reviews

4.5 stars

My brain is running in a million different directions right now, so I already know that this review is not going to be the most organized. But I'll still try.


I. REPRESENTATION
Seoulmates by Susan Lee is a perfect reminder why #OwnVoices representation is so important in media. I am so glad that Susan was able to tell this story about Hannah and Jacob. Even though this book is fiction, I got the sense that she was writing from pieces of her own experience as well. And I have no doubt that Seoulmates allowed Korean-American readers to be seen.


II. COINCIDENCES
Even before I read Seoulmates, I knew that I was going to be favorably biased. Not because I know the author or anything. But because the female main character is named Hannah (and I'm also named Hannah) and the book is set in San Diego (and I was born and raised in San Diego).

It made me smile whenever I saw my name appear on the pages because there are surprisingly not too many Hannah main characters for such a common name. And it made me smile whenever I saw Del Mar or Torrey Pines or Mission Bay appear on the pages because, well, I think this is the first book I've read that is set in San Diego.

It was also a plus that one of my closest friends in middle and high school is named Susan Lee.


III. LIKABLE CHARACTERS
I could relate so much to Hannah, and that's not just because we share the same first name. Like Hannah, I still sometimes struggle with my Asian-American identity (and yes, Chinese-American and Korean-American are not the same thing). Like Hannah, I can hold a grudge and have hurt those who I have loved when I feel hurt. Obviously, there were still differences between me and Hannah, and I really admired how strong (and caring!) she was when she faced all of that drama.

And Jacob, wow. Compared to Hannah, I couldn't relate that much to Jacob, but I suppose I could, to some extent, relate to the pressure and difficult life choices that he encountered. I loved how caring, understanding, and determined he was. I also enjoyed reading about his relationship with his mom and how he really absorbs her advice.

In the same vein, I appreciated the POVs from the moms! They definitely added more depth.


IV. PLOT, ROMANCE, AND DRAMA
Hannah and Jacob are a perfect match for each other, and their romance was simply swoon-worthy. The plot was relatively predictable, but I'm not complaining because I loved the two of them together. Plus, most YA Romance books tend to have predictable plots, and I think I would have actually been complaining if the plot was completely different from expected.

I came for the slow burn, the angst, and the swoon, and that's what I received.

Though I would've preferred it if there was a bit less drama in the last quarter of the book. I understand why there was so much drama and so many misunderstandings towards the end, but I still thought it was slightly too much, and as a result, the last chapter and the epilogue did not feel that satisfying as a closure.


V. SONGS THAT FIT THIS STORY
right here by keshi
oceans & engines by niki
universe by thuy


Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for giving me a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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When I saw I received this ARC from Netgalley I was super excited, I love friends to lovers romances and I couldn't wait to find out how they made the transition from friends to lovers. I have mixed feelings about this, even though I really did enjoy the story overall. Hannah (one of the main characters) really annoyed me sometimes, while I Definitely think her existential crisis was a very valid one and is normal for kids/teenagers growing up and a great topic to talk about in a YA novel, she just did too much for me at times. Where Jacob I absolutely ADORED, I loved watching him navigate trying to take care of his family while also being tired of the stresses that the KDrama world bought to him. I did enjoy seeing them go from not speaking to one another, to becoming the best of friends again and then to two teenagers madly in love. I would definitely be recommending this to my friends. 

Thank you for the chance to read this story! 🖤
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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This one is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved Jacob and it was fascinating to hear about the stressors of the k-drama world BUT I found Hannah super annoying and thought this was way longer than it needed to be. For what it's worth, I thought the existential crisis Hannah went through about whether or not she's Korean enough was a great topic for a YA novel to explore. It was the "everything else" about her that was annoying.
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Have you hopped onboard the K-pop and K-drama train? I'll be honest, I haven't. Not for lack of interest - I just have so much other stuff already on my (never-ending) list of media to consume that I haven't gotten around to it yet. But I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Susan Lee's upcoming Seoulmates through NetGalley and I think it's the perfect thing to get my foot in the door.

Hannah Cho had the perfect plan for summer and senior year with the perfect boyfriend by her side. That is, until he breaks up with her, claiming they have nothing in common. Hannah's now ex-boyfriend, along with most of her classmates and friends, have all fallen deep into the K-pop and K-drama fandom, something that Hannah knows nothing about. In fact, she has spent most of her life hiding away her Korean heritage in hopes of fitting in. Her former best friend Jacob Kim (now a K-drama star) needs a break from the craziness in Seoul and travels with his family to spend the summer in San Diego - at Hannah's house. The two former friends (who haven't seen or spoken to each other in years) now must figure out what happened between the two of them years ago and navigate the new feelings that are developing as they start to spend time together again.

I've said it a thousand times - enemies to lovers is one of my favorite tropes. But there is something incredibly heartwarming about a best friends to lovers story that I think speaks to the dreamer inside of me.

Even though I grew up in the Bay Area, surrounded by other Asian people, I felt very connected to Hannah's struggles with her identity throughout this story. She never feels quite American enough, even when she's pushing down her Korean identity. Then, when her world turns upside down and everything Korean is cool, she doesn't feel Korean enough, having spent so much time try to hide that side of herself. It's something I think every Asian American feels at some point in their life and that's what makes Hannah such a relatable character.

I had to remind myself often that Hannah is a teenager (I have a bad habit of thinking every character I read is my age, regardless of what age they actually are in the story). I found myself silently cursing her for her behavior and then remembering that she's a teenager and her behavior and feelings are exactly how a teenager would behave. It was eerily similar to my own teenage behavior and feelings and I felt kind of attacked (but like...in a good way).

Susan uses multiple POV (mostly Hannah and Jacob, but there are a couple short departures into other characters) throughout the story that enhances the urgency of everything that is happening. Being able to see a situation from both POVs deepened the emotion felt, especially when there has been a misunderstanding between the two.

While the stakes are low (no life or death situations here), the emotional stakes are incredibly high. There's a short timeline for Hannah and Jacob to resolve what has been festering for three years. The end of the summer, often a turning point for most teenagers, is an even bigger turning point for these two because it means Jacob's departure back to Seoul. Can they figure out what they mean to each other and how to make things work between them before then? This teenage love story roped me in quickly and had me falling in love all over again with the idea of love, destiny, fate, and soulmates.

Seoulmates is available for preorder now and hits shelves September 20, 2022.
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My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

This book took me longer to get through than I expected. And that was for one reason: I didn’t want it to end. It’s been a long while since I’ve wanted to savor a book as badly as I did with this one, but here we are. I mean, it certainly doesn’t hurt that I am riding the Hallyu wave, and I love any young adult book that explores elements of Korea and Korean culture. But if that book is unafraid of critiquing the way those industries currently treat their talent? That makes for an even better read.

This opened with a note from the author. Before I even touched the pages of the story, I knew this piece was going to be special based on the words the author shared with the reader. This story was deeply personal for Susan Lee, who spent much of her life rejecting her Korean part of herself. That journey is reflected in the development of one of her main characters, Hannah; the other main character, Jacob, carried the weight of critiquing the k-drama industry. Regardless, reading this note made me open my heart further to the story on the page.

Honestly, something that captured my attention—and made me laugh—was the gentle making-fun of non-Asian people that are obsessed with Korean culture. (Guilty as charged, my love for Korean content is what drove me to wanting to read this book.) Not only are there countless references to popular Korean content (Should I be proud that I recognized all of them?), but the story didn’t shy away from pointing out Asian fetishes or the clique mentality people have when it comes to being a Koreaboo*. Susan Lee handled this critique delicately and with humor, but it also added another layer of complexity to how complicated a journey toward identity and self-acceptance can be.

Despite loving so many facets of this story, there’s no doubt that there was some room for further development. The main thing I struggled with was the pacing of the story—for the amount of pain between Hannah and Jacob, their development into a romance was rather quick. Around the 40-50% mark, the two characters already had kissed and moved past (most of) the pain between them. I will admit I’m a reader who prefers a bit of a slow-burn plot, so I wanted to see more communication and healing between the two before the romance kicked into gear. Sure, slowing down the plot and fixing communication earlier on would have made it possible to do away with the constant miscommunication in the last 25% of the plot, but I honestly would have preferred that. It would have given more space for Jacob to figure out what he wanted in his life. Because that last 25% was full of miscommunication, it felt like Jacob’s subplot didn’t have room to truly develop.

Smaller note, but something that absolutely shocked me was the messing around scene that happened around the 77% mark. I was not expecting a light sprinkling of spice in this story, and it absolutely threw me off. It’s not often we see spice in young adult novels, and it was honestly refreshing. 

Overall, I do adore this novel with every fiber of my being. I love that this book captures Korean culture, but also the journey of coming to terms with a Korean American identity. It’s not afraid to grapple with the difficult sides of identity and the popularization of Korean culture. If you aren’t a fan of Korean culture, I can see this story being a bit of a miss. But, I definitely enjoyed it and look forward to seeing how Susan Lee’s writing grows with future novels.

*Koreaboo – (slang, often derogatory) A non-Korean person who is obsessed with Korean culture (especially K-pop or K-dramas).

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book.
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As per recommendation of the great Christina Lauren, I requested this book on NetGalley, and was granted access.

I mostly read adult romance, but thought that this was a cute novel. A great break from smut, or perfect for YA readers.

I’m not into K-Pop or K-Dramas, but the premise still hooked me. It was easy to understand, and reminded me of Telenovelas(which I enjoy). I was yelling from the sidelines, at Hannah and Jacob to just realize their feelings already.

I recommend this book if you, like me, want a lighter read. Cute, swoony, and love all around.
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There's a part of the book when Hannah's friend starts talking about all things Korean, Kpop, and K-Drama. Hannah says it sounds like complete gibberish. It sounded like that to me also. I knew nothing about the world of Korean pop culture going into the book, but all my friends love it. Now I feel compelled to listen to some BTS and find some. K-Drama to binge on Netflix, because this book was adorable!! I'm going to find some house slippers and raw ramen noodles to snack on while I'm at it, because apparently that's what you do.
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This was a very cute and emotional read! As promised, this book gives of all the K-drama vibes, and I was so here for it. The dramatics ups-and-downs of Jacob and Hannah's relationship as they navigated being childhood best friends to strangers to friends to lovers was very reminiscent of some of my favorite K-dramas. I also really enjoyed the differences in how Jacob and Hannah explore their Korean American identity and their relationship with their cultures. I also liked getting a sneak peek into the relationship with Jacob and Hannah's mothers too! Overall, I'd recommend this book for upper YA readers due to some mature themes.
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Take this book on your fun vacation and read all about a k-drama celeb who is headed home to San Diego for a break himself amongst old friends who know him as Jacob. One of those friends is newly kinda-brokenhearted-moreso-motivated-to-get-guy-back Hannah who is disgusted at the thought of her childhood bestie, Jacob, waltzing back into her life after “abandoning” her years ago for Korea. 

I’ve been a k-drama fan for years and was psyched to read this book. It served all the hilarious quips, sweetness, heartbreak and playfulness I hoped for! As a Filipino-American, I did love and relate to Hannah’s experience of wanting to fit in and push away from her culture only to find how much pride there is in being who you are! 

Can’t wait for more from Susan Lee!
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If you are a YA reader, Seoulmates will hit ALL the right notes, but even if you are an explicit adult romance reader (*cough, cough- like me*) you will still enjoy the hell out of this cute friends-to-enemies-to-lovers story.

I'm not going to lie, I picked up the ARC of Seoulmates because I've been friends with Susan Lee for over a decade, though I won't hesitate to rate my friends' books objectively and fairly (which has cost me some relationships, over the years). But I am THRILLED to say that even though this book doesn't quite fit what I'm used to reading (I don't read much contemporary M/F romance, much less YA romance with *teenagers!*), I thought it was a great read.

The beginning of the book really hooked me. I adored how they gently poked fun at all of the non-Asian people who are newly obsessed with all things Korean (which is VERY true), and I really feel like I felt Hannah's emotions on a deep level. Her feelings of being exasperated and torn rang really true. I also really liked how that girl could hold a grudge (SAME HERE).

I did struggle a bit with the K-drama references (I've never watched one) and the K-pop references (also, not something I go out of my way to listen to), but I think Susan did a very nice job of explaining everything to readers, even noobs like me. I don't think that a lack of knowledge of the Korean acting world is going to hurt a single reader's enjoyment of the story, but it might ring extra true to those who are big fans.

I was all set to 5-star this baby until about the last 1/4 of the story; that's where things devolved a bit for me. The constant back and forth drama and "gotcha" misunderstandings was tiresome, and I wanted a bit of good ol' fashioned adult communication. I think the resolution in the end was mildly satisfying but I don't think it happened soon enough for us to see these two happy together. Plus, that one semi-steamy scene was SUCH a tease (!!) for an adult reader like myself.

Overall, I think Susan Lee did a fabulous job with this story, which I'm sure is near and dear to her heart. It felt fresh and exciting, and it's a book most readers will devour in one day. I can't wait to read more from Susan in the future, and a huge Mazel Tov to her for making this story come to life.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
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When I saw I received this ARC from Netgalley I was escatic! Several months ago I read XOXO  and absolutely loved it. I knew all of the Korean elements sprinkled in with a summer setting would be the absolute perfect read. I was also excited about the childhood friends to lovers trope which is one of my favorites. This book was such a fun read but it also touched on heavier topics such as identity and family issues. I did grow a little tired/frustrated with Hannah and Jacob and their lack of communication at times. However, the ending was absolutely perfect and made it all worth while. 

For my entire review see my blog post.
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To start off, thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to read and review an early copy of this novel! 

I waited to read this closer to pub date, so thats why it took so long. But anyways this book was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I love the trope celebrity X ex childhood best-friends, its such a cute concept and I am obsessed with it. I wish I had read this earlier because wow. The romance in this was done so well, Jacob and Hannah are really good together. And even their characters in general are so relatable especially Hannah’s. Her points were so valid and I like how she was written to be like that. Not a lot of authors now can write current gen teenagers, but I think Susan was able to do it. Its very realistic. Also, I enjoyed the dual POV’s, it gave us a clear perspective of each of the main characters feelings and it was very fun to get into to. In all, I recommend this to anyone who just loves a feel good YA romance. Definitely 5/5.
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I think the characters made this book really shine. I loved the way the POV shifted, even showing the POV of the moms a couple of times, which was wonderful. I think the story really thoughtfully explored the ways that we carry pain and anger and how those affect our lives without coming across as preachy or melodramatic. The characters felt real and honest, and their conflict never felt forced or overcomplicated, which is so important for me when I read YA romance.
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From the first paragraph, I knew this book would be a good one. I immersed myself into the book from the first chapter and I cannot say enough good things about this book! Honestly amazing! The writing is incredible and the plot is just one to die for. I am absolutely obsessed with this book. My favorite part would have to be the character development throughout the book. Character development is something I look forward to and this book did not disappoint.
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Good vibes and great romance. This was a cute and easy fun read to enjoy this summer. I felt like I was reading a kdramaa versus watching it and overall I really enjoyed the sweet good vibes throughout.
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I loved the premise of a Korean American girl struggling with wanting to distance herself from her Korean identity in order to fit in an American high school only to find herself on the outs for not being Korean enough when K-pop and K-dramas take off in America. I mean, her white boyfriend breaks up with her right before summer starts because apparently they don’t have anything in common with each other anymore and he can’t talk to her about K-pop or K-dramas. At the same time, in steps her former best friend turned K-drama star who’s back in town for the summer. This premise was ripe for satire but it turned out to be like any other YA romance, which is fine but forgettable. Hannah’s struggle with her Korean American identity was mentioned here and there, but it didn’t feel like a running theme essential to her character motivations.

As for Jacob the K-drama star, he could have just as easily been any other Hollywood star. At one point, after Jacob and Hannah finally have their first kiss (inevitable), he surprises her with a bouquet of flowers. I think it could have been fun to have Jacob play more into adopting over-the-top romantic gestures throughout the book learned from his time on set, giving more opportunity for teasing and banter with Hannah.

It was refreshing that Jacob was the one of the two who came up with a summer bucket list and was the one to suggest making Nate the ex-boyfriend jealous. However, Jacob and Hannah weren't very committed to keeping up this pretence of making Nate jealous. Hannah was almost dismissive of Nate so there wasn't any tension there and Nate was inconsequential. I don’t know if we were going for a love triangle, but it left something to be desired (no pun intended).

At times, Jacob and Hannah’s relationship felt overly sweet. Jacob’s naivety about the impact of his relationship with Hannah on his career didn’t make sense given how he would go on and on about the calculated nature of his career and his overbearing manager and co-star. Jacob came off as a pawn to his manager and co-star, but I think he could have been a more intriguing character had he shown more passion for his career rather than just regarding it as a means to support his family (...or if he had more of a personality in general). I also think this would have made the conflict of Hannah questioning Jacob's intentions more compelling.

Nevertheless, this could be the book for you if you’re looking for a light summer romance and enjoy summer bucket lists.
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Overall really enjoyable. Hannah and Jacob were both characters I could root for. I thought both of their emotional journeys were really authentic and relatable.

I don't read a lot of contemporary YA. I often struggle with the way teenage girls are written and it ruins the whole book for me. So I really appreciate that Susan Lee has managed to write a teenage girl in a contemporary novel that didn't come off as a manic pixie dream girl or a petulant nightmare. Hannah felt real; her anger and issues felt real; her responses to those issues felt real; the process of working through those issues felt real.

There were a few places where the conversations/arguments veered off into left field and it felt like it was because the author had something they've always wanted to say more than what would actually come up in the conversation, but it only happened once or twice and, honestly, it's probably something a teenager would do.

It did have a bit more language than a lot of other YA book's I've read - so if you're sensitive to that, consider yourself informed.
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This book was super cute and I loved it!

Hannah, who is Korean-American, gets dumped by her boyfriend Nate claiming they have nothing in common since he is obsess with K-pop and K-dramas, which Hannah has no interest in. Hannah former best friend Jacob is a K-drama actor and is coming with his family to stay the summer with Hannah after 3 years of no communication. Hannah and Jacob starts spending lots of time together going around San Diego, which creates trouble with Jacob's career.

It's a great Friends to Hate to Friends to Lover book. It's written in dual perspective. Best way to get both side of the story and true feelings of the main characters. Plus you get to read about great places around San Diego.

Hannah is sweet but stubborn, petite with attitude. Jacob is awesome... but sometimes to nice to stand his ground. I love them together!!!

This book is perfect for anyone interested in Korean culture specifically K-dramas. The book is like a K-drama of it's own. With today's accessibility to other cultures via social media and streaming services (has mentioned in the book) I believe this book will do great and have people fall in love with the characters and more.
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For once, I get to say #TeamJacob and no one can disagree with me! 

Thank you to Inkyard Press, #Netgalley, and Susan Lee for allowing me to read this one early because it was romcom perfection! 

Without a doubt, it’s a 5-star read for me. It's a dual POV, which I love in my romance, and it added so wonderfully to the nuance for both of these characters. I found myself wanting to get to the other person’s POV just to see how they were interpreting the situation. It’s rare for me that I find a book with dual POVs and I don’t have a preference, but I loved both Hannah and Jacob equally. 

The angst, the drama, the friends-to-enemies-to-lovers was *chef’s kiss*! Literally all of it was everything I didn’t know to ask for in a YA romcom. Yes, some might find it cliché and predictable, but if you’re reading a romcom you know where it’s going to end up and likely how the characters are going to get there, but this was still so good. Also, as someone who is around teenage boys for a good majority of the day as an educator, I will tell you Jacob’s depiction is a masterpiece. I’m so glad Susan Lee showed that the male protagonist can be just as emotional, just as enigmatic, just as layered as their love interest. Basically, he never went full Neanderthal on Hannah and ignored his own internal compass when they hit the infamous third act breakup. And *spoiler* it wasn’t even a full breakup, so no worries. 

OH, and the family in this one was hysterical and just as important to the plot as the two main characters. They were all supportive while also managing to kick their butts when necessary. Very cute, very sweet, but with enough angst to keep me interested. I rooted for these two the entire way. 

And if you love K-Dramas even a little bit, this one’s for you. September 20th, 2022 cannot come soon enough for the YA book community!
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I really enjoyed this book! 

Hannah’s summer plans changed when her boyfriend Nate broke up with her because they have nothing in common. He loves K-pop and K-dramas and Hannah isn’t into them at all. It’s ironic (as everyone feels the need to point out to Hannah) that her family actually is Korean and she knows the least about all the mainstream Korean entertainment that’s become popular in the US in recent years.
What’s really ironic and that no one knows about? Hannah’s childhood best friend actually lives in Korea and is an incredibly popular actor on a K-drama. It broke Hannah’s heart when Jacob left suddenly 4 years ago and they lost touch.
Hannah feels like everyone leaves her. 
First her dad moved to Singapore, then Jacob left for Korea and Hannah’s sister moved to another state. She feels afraid to get close to anyone. And she feels some resentment too.

When Jacob comes back to town for a visit, and a much needed break from acting, his family all stats with Hannah’s family.

At first Hannah is ticked.
Then Jacob finds a way to get her to spend time with him.

It doesn’t take long for them to reconnect but now they have new obstacles in their way.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written and really liked the characters too.

I got an early ebook edition from NetGalley and also managed to win an arc of the book from Goodreads. Thanks!
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