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Running With Lions

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Bloomington High School Lions' star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he's got a coach who doesn't ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team's success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates h Bloomington High School Lions' star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he's got a coach who doesn't ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team's success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir's trust. But to Sebastian's surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town's streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.


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Bloomington High School Lions' star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he's got a coach who doesn't ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team's success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates h Bloomington High School Lions' star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he's got a coach who doesn't ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team's success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir's trust. But to Sebastian's surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town's streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them.

30 review for Running With Lions

  1. 3 out of 5

    Em (RunawayWithDreamthieves)

    Cracking open a cold one with the lions, except it’s my cold icy heart and they’re teaching me how to love again... So, what is this book about? Running With Lions is a coming-of-age novel following bisexual rising senior Sebastian Hughes who's eagerly anticipating his last summer at soccer training camp and settling into his role of team captain. His plan, however, quickly loses its footing when Emir Shah, a Muslim British-Pakistani new recruit and Sebastian’s former best friend, unexpectedly a Cracking open a cold one with the lions, except it’s my cold icy heart and they’re teaching me how to love again... So, what is this book about? Running With Lions is a coming-of-age novel following bisexual rising senior Sebastian Hughes who's eagerly anticipating his last summer at soccer training camp and settling into his role of team captain. His plan, however, quickly loses its footing when Emir Shah, a Muslim British-Pakistani new recruit and Sebastian’s former best friend, unexpectedly arrives – partly because of Emir's impressive bad attitude and his insistence on keeping his teammates at arm's lengh, and more than partly because of the long, lean shadow of his and Sebastian's sour parting. Sebastian is left with the responsibility of bringing his team together while feeling the caution of wondering if his attraction for Emir would bloom into something more. First of all, I'm one of those people who are so full of love they could explode: you could casually mention something or someone I love and it would take every ounce of my self-control not to propel myself into the stars and scream for the rest of eternity about how much I love them. But also, I'm one of those people who hate showing affection and cringe internally anytime someone else does. I'm basically half an unrelenting cynic, half a hopeless romantic and the two halves are having a smackdown 24/7 100% of the time. But I genuinely enjoyed this book. This is the kind of heartwarming story you read to distract yourself from your own incapability to create meaningful bonds with others and as a way to fill the void that a lack of real human relationships leaves you with, and it causes some old unused part of your brain to light up like a Christmas tree. My heart needed a hug as Sebastian and Emir tentaviely traced their way back into their friendship like effortlessly sidling up to the fringes of a familiar conversation. More endearing is how Sebastian's team is a multiethnic group of players with differing sexual orientations who satisfyingly jell into a family, making you wish you had the resources to foster all of them. I also appreciated the genuine discussions surrounding body-image. Overall, this was such a sweet, casually diverse story that left me feeling warm and pure and as if someone has wrapped me in love like a kind boa constrictor! BLOG | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | TUMBLR

  2. 4 out of 5

    ✨ jamieson ✨

    "And that's the thing, life is sometimes just another day, and sometimes it's moment after moment after moment that only paralyzes you if you let it." no offense but this was so cute and my cold dead heart wasn't ready to so violently care about these angsty jocks I mean !! Sebastian, a bi disaster really going out there and Doing That, just snatching himself up a man over summer camp? Iconic! So Running With Lions basically follows a team called The Lions who are at their summer sports camp. "And that's the thing, life is sometimes just another day, and sometimes it's moment after moment after moment that only paralyzes you if you let it." no offense but this was so cute and my cold dead heart wasn't ready to so violently care about these angsty jocks I mean !! Sebastian, a bi disaster really going out there and Doing That, just snatching himself up a man over summer camp? Iconic! So Running With Lions basically follows a team called The Lions who are at their summer sports camp. The main character Sebastian, wants to make captain but is blindsided by the new addition to the team - former best friend Emir Shah, who's terrible attitude has Sebastian wondering where their friendship went wrong. Whilst struggling to adapt to his new role as captain of the Lions, Sebastian, being the giant gay that he is, also finds himself super attracted to Emir and now he's got double shit to deal with. And it's just SO GOOD FROM THERE. I seriously loved how cute this was like urgh!!! You know when the couple are so cute you gotta scream into a pillow to contain the feels? thats how I feel about Emir and Sebastian. They're so sweet and I just think they deserve the world. Honestly their whole romance was just pure fun, it had so many cheesy tropes and cliche moments but I LOVED IT. Julian Winters used to be a big fanfic writer and you can tell because it utilises those corny romance tropes so perfectly I love it. "Why do people let things so precious to them turn into dark, unbearable secrets?" I also love that this dealt with other issues outside of the romance body positivity and image, bullying, homophobia in sport and so much more came up. Sebastian's arc involving his self-image and his struggle with feeling worthy of being captain was something that really boosted this book from being a romance to something a bit more and I loved that. I also loved the diversity of this book - Sebastian is bi, Emir is a Muslim, Pakistani-American and gay. The team is also made up of two gay boys, one of whom is black. The relationship between the team was also super well written and I loved these bro's so much. I think showing strong bonds between guys, and how they support eachother in a positive way, is really important. Found family tropes are my favourite and the focus on the team being a found family for all the boys, where they're free to express their sexualities without judgement, really warmed my heart. I had two main issues with this book which kept it from being a five star read: the writing, and the treatment of one of the characters. The writing didn't always work for me, I found some sections a bit awkward and clunky and had to reread some parts to make sure I had it write because the transitions were a bit awkward. Julian Winters writes romance and fluff so well but chapter endings and the filler parts felt a bit messy, and I think you can tell he came from a fanfiction background because the transitions felt like the end of a fanfic chapter. My other issue was the treatment of the only female character, Grey. Throughout the book her love interest Mason was SO mean to her and it was never really called out properly. And the whole "he's mean to you because he likes you" trope was at play, and I really hate that. I think there needed to be more repercussions for Mason's behaviour toward her and less romanticisation of it. ’You’re beautiful.’ Sebastian rolls his eyes. ‘Guys aren’t-‘ ‘Hey,’ Emir cuts in. ‘Guys are beautiful. And girls are handsome. Words aren’t gender-specific. Don’t be some jerk asshole about this.” Overall this was so cute and sweet and jfghdf and I enjoyed reading it so much it's one of those books that just drags you in and forces you to be in a good mood feeling all warm and wholesome inside. It's the perfect feel-good sweet read and I just love this team and Emir/Sebastian SO MUCH. I would love a spin off about Grey or Willie! And I would definitely reread this to get all those warm ooey gooey feelings all over again.

  3. 5 out of 5

    anna (readingpeaches)

    This review is also posted on my blog. I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 ☆ My initial review for Running With Lions basically just said: “this book proves that 1) sports are inherently gay & 2) goalies are the best kind of train wrecks people” and frankly, I stand by this. It’s a contemporary novel about a bunch of teens at a soccer camp, it’s beautifully diverse, and a perfect read for summer. Our protagonist, Sebastian, is a goalie & i This review is also posted on my blog. I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 ☆ My initial review for Running With Lions basically just said: “this book proves that 1) sports are inherently gay & 2) goalies are the best kind of train wrecks people” and frankly, I stand by this. It’s a contemporary novel about a bunch of teens at a soccer camp, it’s beautifully diverse, and a perfect read for summer. Our protagonist, Sebastian, is a goalie & if you have ever been into any kind of sport, you know that goalies are always the most wild & weird but also pure people on the team. I think it’s a prerequisite for the position... Sebastian is also bisexual (and yes! they use the b-word!) and honestly, he’s the perfect example of a Disaster Bi. It’s incredible. The amount of secondhand embarrassment you have to deal with in basically every single one of his scenes is overwhelming & every second of it is relatable, because every second of it is rooted in not being straight. It’s such a joy and it’s so refreshing to read about a character like that. Now the part of the book I loved most, the part that’s the sweetest - is the romance between Sebastian and Emir. Emir is his childhood best friend but they haven’t spoken in years, before he randomly showed up at the camp. Emir is also a gay Muslim - like I said, this book realises the world we live in is a diverse one. I adored Sebastian’s clumsy attempts at making friends with Emir again, how he was desperately trying to hide his very obvious crush but really, it was there for everyone to see. The romance happens in the heat of summer, somewhere on a soccer pitch or at a running trail in the woods or a bench on front of an ice cream parlor or… This carefree, summery atmosphere is always there, always making things more vivid & more bright. And honestly, it’s the boys’ journey from not-really-enemies-but-definitely-not-friends-anymore to lovers that made me love Running With Lions so much. This is very much a characters driven novel. I mean, objectively speaking not much really happens - they train, they go on dates, there are some unexpected hospital visits & grand romantic gestures, but overall? It’s not the plot that matters here, it’s the characters. And they’re all so lovely & real! It definitely helps that pretty much none of them are straight? Well, we all know that gay people flock together, but the book also has an explanation for that. Basically, the soccer team is run by a coach who made it very clear he does. not. care. about players’ sexualities, as long as they can play well. And it’s such a CONCEPT! Especially when in real life, this basically doesn’t happen. This team truly is a family & the boys look out for each other at every turn (Sebastian always being the first in line for that). It shows brilliantly in the example of Emir. We meet him as a rather shy recluse but over time he grows into this bunch of sweet fools. Friendships are formed and he truly becomes one of them, part of the family. But while I loved the book as a whole, there are some little things that bothered me. You could probably chalk all of them up to this being a debut, as well - and a really good, solid one! - but we strive for perfectness in this gay household. The writing can sometimes feel a bit choppy, like there’s too much to say in too few words, and the cuts between scenes are so sudden here & there, that you can get slightly lost. But I think the weirdest part for me was that there really is a lot of showing here, it’s great in that aspect! But then? We would also get the dreaded telling? And it would happen in scenes we already lived and saw clearly enough to make our own conclusions, which makes the inclusion of wordy descriptions even more unnecessary? Telling isn’t even the right term for this phenomena, more like explaining of the showing. And two other tiny bumps, kind of connected with each other, if you squint. One is the use of an internal monologue of the MC, written in cursive. It might not be a bad thing, per se, more like a personal preference, but yeah, personally I really, really don’t like it & think it’s kind of lazy writing. The other is the fact that Sebastian talks out loud to himself. A lot. Which is cool, I mean I literally do the same… But he does it so much, there comes a point where it feels more like it’s used as a device to describe things rather than just his habit? Like a shortcut in a narrative. Overall, though, Running With Lions is a wonderful, heartwarming book. It’s packed to the brim with lgbt characters and only a few of them are white and that’s exactly the kind of books we deserve more of. Especially when they’re wholesome and uplifting like this one. Because this is truly a novel about the power of friendship & how having soft, loving people in your life can change it for the better without you even noticing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    ⚔ Silvia ⚓

    I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. ✨ Full review now posted! SKSNSKSLDHDSS* *translation for those who don't speak Gay: THIS WAS SO SWEET AND GAY I'M SCREAMING Right from the description this book sounded right up my alley and it did not disappoint. It’s not a perfect book and you can feel that it’s a debut, but the characters were well rounded and I just wanted to keep reading to see what happened next, and I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. ✨ Full review now posted! SKSNSKSLDHDSS* *translation for those who don't speak Gay: THIS WAS SO SWEET AND GAY I'M SCREAMING Right from the description this book sounded right up my alley and it did not disappoint. It’s not a perfect book and you can feel that it’s a debut, but the characters were well rounded and I just wanted to keep reading to see what happened next, and I think the romance was believable. All these elements, paired with how diverse and how awesomely queer this was, made this book a four stars for me. I want to start by talking about the queer elements in this, because it was my favorite thing ever. Right from the start we’re introduced to Sebastian, who is bisexual and not afraid to say it (well, except to his mom). His best friends are Mason, also bi, and Willie, who’s gay. Throughout the novel we meet at least two more queer side characters, one of which is Sebastian’s love interest (who is also a practicing Muslim), and also one of the coaches is gay and has a husband. This is also not a “everyone is queer and everyone is fully accepted” kind of world. People still have to come out and deal with everyday shit including homophobia, but the soccer team the book follows is open to all queer people and I think that gives a better, more welcoming feeling to the reader because it doesn’t erase our struggles while still delivering a very queer-positive environment. This is introduction is just to say that this kind of representation was what every queer person deserves in their life. Moving on to the plot, this is very much character driven and I think all main and side characters were given enough depth for the reader to be able to really feel a connection to them, both individually and as a team. Sebastian is kind of the peacekeeper and he always feels responsible for his team members, Mason is the troublemaker, and so on. I think something like that is really important to have in sport romances and this aspect was done very well. The romance itself I only started liking after a while. I guess maybe I wanted more of the enemies element but the whole deal with why their former friendship ended was kind of underwhelming. I still enjoyed reading it though and I eventually started shipping it. I really want more books like these because they feel real and positive and they're truly catered towards queer people. Please support this book when it's out! TWs: Discussions of body shaming, bullying, Islamophobia, and a scene featuring homophobic taunting/language. THIS GAYS ONLY EVENT FINALLY HAPPENED and it was also a BR with my buddy reader in crime Rin/Lorenzo ____ Hold on a minute are you telling me that this is a queer sports romance that features the superior trope aka best friends to enemies to lovers

  5. 3 out of 5

    Sabrina The Trash Queen

    I’m a sucker for friends to enemies to lovers romance, so sign me that fuck up!! Can’t wait to start reading this one!

  6. 5 out of 5

    chandler ainsley ❁

    the sigh heard round the world i want to preface this review by saying that i think for a first book this was a solid effort and there were a lot of awesome things included. diverse characters, body image issues in male characters, acceptance of lgbtq+ characters, and a whole lot more. but that's kind of all of the nice things i have to say. to start, this book was written like fan fiction (edit: upon research, this guy got big off of fan fiction, so i guess that makes sense). i do not mean that the sigh heard round the world i want to preface this review by saying that i think for a first book this was a solid effort and there were a lot of awesome things included. diverse characters, body image issues in male characters, acceptance of lgbtq+ characters, and a whole lot more. but that's kind of all of the nice things i have to say. to start, this book was written like fan fiction (edit: upon research, this guy got big off of fan fiction, so i guess that makes sense). i do not mean that as an insult, it was just strange to read in an actual novel. the author utilizes third person limited POV and it unfortunately made it hard to connect to the main character, sebastian. we hear about his feelings, but not from him and it just read extremely strange and disjointed. ok this is the part where i bullet things that i didn't like because i'm feeling lazy - one of the main characters is the crush recipient of a girl 2 years younger than him and treats her like GARBAGE until the very end of the book - one of the main characters has body dysmorphia which is discussed ONCE and then is brushed away until the end of the book where we get a one sentence explanation of them speaking to the counselor - enemies to hook up to deciding to go to the same college together but one of them isn't comfortable with the term boyfriend??? - no nuance or subtlety in characterization - really lackluster/non existent plot, mostly just emptiness and hookups all of that to say, i'm giving this book 3 stars and will probably read the next book this author puts out. i think this book will really work for some because of all the positive rep, but that's kind of where it ends for me. i think i unwittingly was comparing this to the all for the game series when i was reading and that definitely did this book a disservice. but overall it lacked the big things i look for in a book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    DNF at ~40%. No rating. Sometimes I DNF a book because I didn't enjoy it or I found it boring, but here I am DNFing because I'm just not clicking with the writing style and I don't want to be the ass who gives it a bad review. I really struggle with third person, present tense (present tense, in general, actually), and when I saw that that's how the story was written, I immediately got worried. However, I was determined to press on. I mean, that cover(!), queer rep in sports(!), a book with many DNF at ~40%. No rating. Sometimes I DNF a book because I didn't enjoy it or I found it boring, but here I am DNFing because I'm just not clicking with the writing style and I don't want to be the ass who gives it a bad review. I really struggle with third person, present tense (present tense, in general, actually), and when I saw that that's how the story was written, I immediately got worried. However, I was determined to press on. I mean, that cover(!), queer rep in sports(!), a book with many YA, POC characters (!)- I just couldn't pass that up. However, it just never gelled for me. Maybe it's because YA isn't my usual thing, though I have LOVED and favorited many YAs in the past, or maybe it's because I just didn't connect with the characters (there are a lot, and I had difficulty growing close to any of them). I really, really struggled with the choppy transitions between scenes and whose POV it was at any given time, and I never could sink into the story. Again, I think this book and books like it is just what we need, but the writing style didn't work for me. Sometimes it's just better to throw in the towel. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tara ☽

    When I think of this book, this what comes to mind: Sunshine, muddy knees, ice cream. Bouncing soccer balls, hand-holding, friendship. Lost boys and soft mouths. Endless, lazy summer. This book did for soccer what The Raven Cycle did for paranormal-fantasy. AKA, made it Extremely Gay. I am so, so happy that LGBT+ books are being published in genre format. For many years, if we wanted a book with LGBT+ characters, that would be the sole selling point of the book: that it was LGBT+. But now we have When I think of this book, this what comes to mind: Sunshine, muddy knees, ice cream. Bouncing soccer balls, hand-holding, friendship. Lost boys and soft mouths. Endless, lazy summer. This book did for soccer what The Raven Cycle did for paranormal-fantasy. AKA, made it Extremely Gay. I am so, so happy that LGBT+ books are being published in genre format. For many years, if we wanted a book with LGBT+ characters, that would be the sole selling point of the book: that it was LGBT+. But now we have fantasy, contemporary, paranormal, dystopian books with queer main characters, and it's not sold solely on that point. It makes me heart so happy. First of all, if you're expecting this book to basically be The Foxhole Court, you're probably going to be disappointed. I love The Foxhole Court and I love this book, but the fact that they both revolve around sports and have queer characters is where the similarities end. This book stands strongly and uniquely on its own, which is why I loved it so much. Now, onto the story. Our main character is Sebastian, the star goalie, future-captain of his team and also the absolute pinnacle of a disaster bi. He is the sweetest cinnamon ray of sunshine ever to be graced between the pages of a book, and I challenge you not to love him. He hasn't got everything figured out, in fact he has no idea where he is going or what he is doing, but his teammates look up to him as a leader; he is the glue that holds his team together. Aside from our ray of sunshine protagonist, we have a beautiful childhood-best-friends - to 'enemies' - to awkward allies - to lovers romance and it was EVERYTHING. The love interest is Emir, a gay Muslim boy, a bit of a loner with a rather acerbic wit. It was so wonderful to read about - Sebastian is basically a Catastrophe With A Crush. This boy is crushing HARD on Emir since basically their first meeting (not technically a first meeting since they were childhood best friends, but they were estranged for a few years) and watching him epically fail at being Smooth was hilarious and endearing. But this book is not all about the romance. The friendships here are absolutely delightful - we've got a soccer team who are basically a found family. These boys just all love each other so, so much; they're not afraid to be vulnerable and let their best friends see them cry. Of course, they also have their Macho Moments: calling each other 'bro' an inordinate amount of times, punching each other's shoulders, getting into the occasional scrap. But they'll always come back to each other at the end of the day, they will always, always have each other's backs and they will never turn away from each other. (Sorry I'm getting a bit emotional but I just...*clenches fist*...LOVE stories about beautiful friendships) There were some side romances that were nice to read about, but I didn't like one romance in particular - the one between Mason and Grey, the coach's daughter. It really rubbed me the wrong way, because this boy treats this girl like dirt for most of the book while she pines after him and makes heart eyes. He's clearly not interested in her for the first three quarters of the book, and acts like an utter wanker towards her just because she likes him. It teaches girls that they should stick by a boy who treats them like shit because it'll eventually pay off in the end. Just...no. But most of the book was awesome!!!! I'm not kidding, this book actually made me want to start playing soccer (AKA football in Britain where I'm from. Seriously...don't get me started on 'American football', because I'm sorry but that shit is not football. They barely even use their bloody feet. Real football is what Americans call soccer...but I digress.) Basically if you love stories about summer camp, friendship and soft romance, you will undoubtedly love this book.

  9. 3 out of 5

    ✧ k a t i e ✧

    "Just because people create rules doesn't mean those are your rules. Um, why isn't there more hype around this book? Cause there should be. Everyone needs to read this book. This book was so fucking adorable. Sebastian and Emir are officially my children that I will protect at all costs. Also, Willie and Grey are precious and deserve the world. I absolutely loved the characters in this book. The romance was so adorable (that is a word that is going to be used multiple times because that's wha "Just because people create rules doesn't mean those are your rules. Um, why isn't there more hype around this book? Cause there should be. Everyone needs to read this book. This book was so fucking adorable. Sebastian and Emir are officially my children that I will protect at all costs. Also, Willie and Grey are precious and deserve the world. I absolutely loved the characters in this book. The romance was so adorable (that is a word that is going to be used multiple times because that's what this book is). I am such a sucker for the enemy to lovers trope (see: my obsession with Neil and Andrew from The Foxhole Court ) and Sebastian and Emir were no exception with me. The only thing I didn't like was the beginning. I felt super overwhelmed with all the characters and it took me forever to remember who's who. Also, I thought this was going to be super super similar to The Foxhole Court, and it's not. I was initially disappointed, but that quickly changed the further I got in the book and the more I got attached to the characters. But regardless of my initial feelings and assumptions, this book was incredible. Why are so many people sleeping on this book???? Like y'all are missing out on some good shit. This book is so good. It is so adorable. And more people need to pick it up. More people need to read this book. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ MY LIBRARY FINALLY GOT A COPY AND I WAS THE FIRST PERSON ON THE HOLD LIST FOR IT AND I'M SO EXCITED TO READ THIS IT'S ONE OF MY MOST ANTICIPATED READS THIS YEAR AHHHH

  10. 4 out of 5

    Yusra ✨

    the cover is so cute i cannot deal with the cover

  11. 5 out of 5

    rin (lorenzo)

    tragic news are: i didn't click with this book it's a character driven story and it's very diverse. diversity wise, there are gay & bisexual rep, moc and the li is a practising muslim. the story itself is pretty cute and i did like the characters, sebastian especially, bc he's a disaster bi and i feel him. my personal problem is. the writing. it absolutely isn't for me. i feel like it was too awkward and bumpy and all over the place. i just never really connected with it and had to take a brea tragic news are: i didn't click with this book it's a character driven story and it's very diverse. diversity wise, there are gay & bisexual rep, moc and the li is a practising muslim. the story itself is pretty cute and i did like the characters, sebastian especially, bc he's a disaster bi and i feel him. my personal problem is. the writing. it absolutely isn't for me. i feel like it was too awkward and bumpy and all over the place. i just never really connected with it and had to take a break every five pages or so, because it didnt read for me like something whole. there were moments where i just couldn't grasp how one thing led to another or how some actions resulted in their outcomes. however, i know it's a debut novel, that's why im not so hard on it i guess. the story overall was pretty fun, i just couldn't enjoy it. gotta keep my eye on julian winters though. also tbvh it's not really friends to /enemies/ to lovers lbr ~~~~ second br w silvia but also!! im gay and i need me some sports gays ~~~~ average brain: enemies to lovers galaxy brain: best friends to lovers exploding galaxy brain: best friends to enemies to lovers

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vitor Martins

    Running with Lions é uma história linda sobre amizade, trabalho em equipe e sobre se apaixonar. Eu não esperava me envolver tanto com uma história sobre UM TIME DE FUTEBOL mas tudo foi feito de uma maneira tão bonita pelo autor que eu terminei a leitura sorrindo e chorando ao mesmo tempo. Gosto muito da premissa "adolescentes que não tem a menor ideia do que vão fazer depois do Ensino Médio" e isso é trabalhado de um jeito muito honesto e real nesse livro. Os conflitos do Sebastian a respeito do Running with Lions é uma história linda sobre amizade, trabalho em equipe e sobre se apaixonar. Eu não esperava me envolver tanto com uma história sobre UM TIME DE FUTEBOL mas tudo foi feito de uma maneira tão bonita pelo autor que eu terminei a leitura sorrindo e chorando ao mesmo tempo. Gosto muito da premissa "adolescentes que não tem a menor ideia do que vão fazer depois do Ensino Médio" e isso é trabalhado de um jeito muito honesto e real nesse livro. Os conflitos do Sebastian a respeito do seu futuro me aproximaram muito desse protagonista e a sua visão de mundo me fez ler o livro inteiro com esperança e empolgação. O autor conseguiu criar um ambiente ~futebolístico~ muito saudável para pessoas LGBTQ, sem deixar de lado que o esporte no geral é SIM um campo extremamente homofóbico e nocivo. Mas a medida em que vamos entendendo a dinâmica do relacionamento dos Lions, a gente percebe que a amizade é muito importante para transformar aquele time em uma família. As amizades são muito importantes na história e o WILLIE É TUDO NA MINHA VIDA! E agora podemos passar para o elemento que me deixou mais bALaNçAdO nessa história toda: o ROMANCE (óbvio). "I can't stop thinking about you. All the bloody time. It's proper annoying." "Is that a compliment or a insult?" "Both." Aqui a gente tem um enemies to lovers de leve e uma PAIXÃO INTENSA QUE DÁ VONTADE DE SUBIR PELAS PAREDES. Bastian e Emir são a coisa mais linda desse mundo e eu amei a maneira como o Julian Winters criou um relacionamento conflituoso, porém saudável. Com muita conversa (e um pouco de drama, já que os dois tem 17 anos rs) a gente vai se envolvendo cada vez mais no romance dos dois e o jeito como eles falam (e fazem) sexo foi 100% responsável e realista e eu estou MUITO FELIZ POR ESSES DOIS. Tive alguns probleminhas com a escrita do autor (principalmente a construção de diálogo deles que é meio confusa), e os capítulos iniciais tem bastante descrição de FUTEBOL ACONTECENDO (o que, para mim, é meio chato). Mas, fora isso, EU AMEI ESSA TURMA!!!!!!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    "Guys are beautiful. And girls are handsome. Words aren't gender-specific." I never thought that, when I first met Julian on Bookstagram, I would one day hold a book with his name on it in my hands. But here we go. I am super proud of him and hope to have a whole stack of them one day. Running With Lions was a fluffy, light-hearted and cute story about friendship and love. It has a great many things to say about antiquated gender and beauty norms, and outdated myths about sexuality. It also proves "Guys are beautiful. And girls are handsome. Words aren't gender-specific." I never thought that, when I first met Julian on Bookstagram, I would one day hold a book with his name on it in my hands. But here we go. I am super proud of him and hope to have a whole stack of them one day. Running With Lions was a fluffy, light-hearted and cute story about friendship and love. It has a great many things to say about antiquated gender and beauty norms, and outdated myths about sexuality. It also proves that it is far from difficult to write a diverse story including more than just your token gay and another token black character. The book had a few minor flaws that I want to talk about. After roughly 100 pages I had grown weary of the characters, and their repetitive and meaningless banter. The dialogues could have used a bit more editing, in my opinion. Their triviality got on my nerves. Then there were Mason, the main character's best friend, and Grey, the only girl in the soccer camp. She has had a crush on Mason forever, but the way Mason treated her was outrageous. What bothered me even more, was how no one seemed to mind his shitty behaviour. Luckily, at the end of the book, the tide turned. Grey realised that he did not deserve her attention and Mason realised what an ass he was. I am glad that I kept reading, though. After those first 100 pages, I started enjoying it much more and finished the book in one go. I also got annoyed by how often I had to read a sentence along the lines of "and then he playfully punched him in his shoulder". What is it with all that punching? On one hand, this book promotes a group of soccer fanatics that are seemingly liberated of all this stereotypical manly behaviour...so why do they have to punch each other all the time? Why are they so obsessed with that? It got to a point where I wanted to punch someone (for real, not just for play) every time I had to read about it. Here, again, I think some more editing would have helped. I also had the feeling that a couple major plot points were a bit overdramatic - characters had made a mountain out of a molehill, and this tiny molehill now served as a turning point for the book, which rendered it a little unrealistic. Overall, this book is proud and positive. It shows a wide range of characters that are perfect because they are beautifully flawed. They love one another and always have each other's backs. The perfect summer read for everyone who enjoyed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Find more of my books on Instagram

  14. 4 out of 5

    sue

    I struggled like hell with this book. That doesn’t mean you may not like or or have read it and loved it. My struggle was that it was written in third person. I’m ok with that if it’s written well. Not a lover of third person writing and definitely wouldn’t be my first choice. The author didn’t make transition easy either I got lost who was speaking now. It was rather choppy change, I so struggled that it hindered any enjoyment for me what the story was about as I was getting more frustrated. No boo I struggled like hell with this book. That doesn’t mean you may not like or or have read it and loved it. My struggle was that it was written in third person. I’m ok with that if it’s written well. Not a lover of third person writing and definitely wouldn’t be my first choice. The author didn’t make transition easy either I got lost who was speaking now. It was rather choppy change, I so struggled that it hindered any enjoyment for me what the story was about as I was getting more frustrated. No book should make you feel like that, it shouldn’t be a chore to read where you have to work so hard to understand it and it’s style. It should be a pleasure. I don’t mind putting work into a book when you come out exhilarated and happy but boy oh boy was I happy to make it to the end, give it my whole but feel totally worn out. This is how I personally thought and felt, but you may feel differently.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra {semi-hiatus}

    "Why do people let things so precious to them turn into dark, unbearable secrets?" 4.5 Ever since I saw the first tidbit of leaked information on this book (I can't remember whether it was the cover, the synopsis, or even just a blurb) I was in love. Like, I pre-ordered this the day it was listed on Amazon. A YA summer story with sports and a team of LGBTQ inclusive boys? It looked funny, cute, and precious. And it was all of those things. It was funny. It was cute. It was precious. Mainly though, "Why do people let things so precious to them turn into dark, unbearable secrets?" 4.5 Ever since I saw the first tidbit of leaked information on this book (I can't remember whether it was the cover, the synopsis, or even just a blurb) I was in love. Like, I pre-ordered this the day it was listed on Amazon. A YA summer story with sports and a team of LGBTQ inclusive boys? It looked funny, cute, and precious. And it was all of those things. It was funny. It was cute. It was precious. Mainly though, Sebastian was all of these things. It's been a very long time since I found a main character I adored so wholeheartedly. Sebastian was kind, he was honest, and he was so damn lovable. Seriously. This boy is my child and anyone with anything negative to say about him can fight me. Before this review turns into a love letter to Sebastian, (and it will) let me share the other things this book did right. Back to my first point, it's a sports novel about an LGBTQ inclusive soccer team. That alone puts it on a pedestal. Add in the cast of Emir, a gay Muslim teen, Willie, another gay boy with a heart of gold, Mason, a questioning and talented player who can be an occasional asshole, Hunter, a gay boy from a religious family, and all of their boys who double as annoying brothers and avid allies. Not to mention, our bisexual and bashful angel in disguise, Sebastian. This is a tad random, but I needed to put this in here: this book handles body image issues with boys. I repeat: this book handles body image issues that boys have. Every novel I've read that even touches on that topic... that has been the main plot. Every novel I've read where a girl has body image issues? It's just been a subplot. Finally, a book that acknowledges that both boys and girls are affected by the harmful images sent out by our media. Especially, the unrealistic body standards for male athletes. I couldn't have loved this precious book any more if I tried. It covers all of its bases and more. Has the diversity of this made your heart happy yet? I'm still glowing and it's been days. If my review hasn't convinced you to buy this right here, right now, just read some of the other beautifully written tomes of praise my friends wrote. I'm not the only one who fell in love with this book. This is to sports what Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is to theater: a novel that you need to read whether you're in the community or not because you will freaking love it.

  16. 3 out of 5

    Romie

    Why do people let things so precious to them turn into dark, unbearable secrets? This book got me so soft. I think everybody has been thinking it so, yes, this book gave me Foxhole Court vibes. Some very strong TFC vibes. I loved it. I'm a sucker for lgbtqiap+ and sport stories. I don't know why, I just always seem to love them. This is the story of Sebastian, he lives for soccer and plays as a goalie. Every single summer since he made it to the team, he spends his entire month of August at Camp Ha Why do people let things so precious to them turn into dark, unbearable secrets? This book got me so soft. I think everybody has been thinking it so, yes, this book gave me Foxhole Court vibes. Some very strong TFC vibes. I loved it. I'm a sucker for lgbtqiap+ and sport stories. I don't know why, I just always seem to love them. This is the story of Sebastian, he lives for soccer and plays as a goalie. Every single summer since he made it to the team, he spends his entire month of August at Camp Haven with his teammates, training for their upcoming soccer season. This year is a bit different though, considering his ex childhood best friend Emir has been recruited by Bastian's coach, and he and Emir haven't talked since then. Bastian is pretty sure Emir hates him even though he has no idea why. This year is also different because it's Bastian's last year before he graduates high school and has to decide what he wants to do after that. Ain't that scary. I loved this story. I loved the team. I'm not a huge fan of soccer, one could say it's even my least favourite sport. But this team of bros loving each other? Omg yes give me more. When Coach Patrick created his team, he decided he would make it a safe space for people to be themselves. It means this team is made of straight, gay, bi, and curious guys. And none of them are being judged for that. This team is a family, they support each other no matter what, and sure, they like to joke around, but they never try to hurt each other. I loved this so much. This team is diverse and inclusive, these guys may look like machos in training, but they're so much more than what they look like. They're supportive, they're caring and kind, and I loved every single one of them. I loved that this story focused on Sebastian's feelings. He knows he's bisexual, he's out to his friends, but not to his family, and we get to see how he feels about that. He's not ashamed of his sexuality, he's not wondering if he's bi or not, it's not about him figuring out he's bi. He knows he is and says it explicitly several times. But Sebastian battles with his own feelings about what it means to be masculine, battles with how he perceives his own body. Reading about a guy who's not confident in his body and tries to open about it, that's something we need a lot more in books. A lot of teenagers aren't confident in their bodies, and we don't talk about it enough. Guys need to have books in which they can see that they're not alone in this struggle. There was an important conversation about self-love and body acceptance, and I loved it so damn much. The evolution of Emir and Sebastian's relationship was everything to me. These two used to be best friends when they were little. They were both rejected and bullied, and they found an ally in each other. But Emir left for London with his family when his grandma fell sick, and when he came back a few months later, Bastian had ‘moved on’ or so it seemed. Reading about them trying to find their way back to each other was so heartwarming. I believed in them and in the intimacy they had as kids, it was just there for everybody to see, it felt real. I loved that Emir felt comfortable enough with Bastian to talk about what it's like for him being Muslim and gay, I loved that Bastian felt like he could talk about being bisexual to Emir. I loved these two dorks so damn much. I loved their friendship, I loved that none of them tried to be better than the other. They just helped each other. I loved that they talked about what they wanted and didn't want. Gosh, I love respectful boyfriends. I'm soft for all these boys. That's it. I said it. 4.75

  17. 3 out of 5

    TS

    the most unfortunate part about this book is that I feel like I would've liked it so much more if it was written by someone else D; also, there is good extra-parm-on-my-pasta cheese and uncomfortable I'm-choking-on-my-panini-melt cheese, and the cheesiness in this book felt like the latter to me 2.5 stars but the diversity in this book is brilliant so let's all recognize that!!! also I feel like cheese levels are hugely subjective so that should be acknowledged; just because it wasn't to my tast the most unfortunate part about this book is that I feel like I would've liked it so much more if it was written by someone else D; also, there is good extra-parm-on-my-pasta cheese and uncomfortable I'm-choking-on-my-panini-melt cheese, and the cheesiness in this book felt like the latter to me 2.5 stars but the diversity in this book is brilliant so let's all recognize that!!! also I feel like cheese levels are hugely subjective so that should be acknowledged; just because it wasn't to my tastes doesn't mean it won't be to yours. (for the curious: there is a Pakistani Muslim gay love interest, a bi MC and many side characters are gay, bi, questioning or curious and one character is black) ---- me every day since finding out about this book over a month ago: checking to see if my ARC request has been approved, obsessively stalking the gr page to see if any new reviews have been posted, gazing wonderingly at the cover, daydreaming about how good this book will be I WANT IT SOOO MUCHHHH

  18. 4 out of 5

    Norah Una Sumner

    This was such a pleasant surprise! Even though the writing was a bit choppy and there isn't really that much plot to it, I really enjoyed it and found myself being a bit teary eyed in the end. Sebastian is literally the definition of a chaotic bi™ and I loved him for that. It was a bit weird reading about someone who has the same name as one of your close friends from school but Emir won me over and I literally just wanted to protect him and hug him and wrap him in a fuzzy blanket... Okay, I got This was such a pleasant surprise! Even though the writing was a bit choppy and there isn't really that much plot to it, I really enjoyed it and found myself being a bit teary eyed in the end. Sebastian is literally the definition of a chaotic bi™ and I loved him for that. It was a bit weird reading about someone who has the same name as one of your close friends from school but Emir won me over and I literally just wanted to protect him and hug him and wrap him in a fuzzy blanket... Okay, I got really soft. But please, a gay British-Pakistani practicing Muslim? I decided to protect him with my life the moment he appeared. The... whole Grey situation is really what bothered me the most about this book and I wish she wasn't both portrayed and treated like such throughout the book. She deserves better and I wish her character wasn't semi developed over her one sided crush on a really rude boy. The diversity, the really nice queer rep is definitely what really got me and what made me feel so warm and what made me enjoy this book. There are also mentions of tons of emo songs I still bop to so that's a big plus!

  19. 3 out of 5

    Moony Eliver

    DNF @25%. I'm disappointed, but I can’t connect with this one at all. The characters are one-dimensional, and the dialogue and reactions are weird and off-putting. It seems like every spoken line is followed by a sentence or two of unnecessary explanation. These appear to be problems inherent in the writing, rather than something that might get better as the book progresses, so I’m calling it. I might have dragged out that decision for longer but this is a library checkout, so I’m just taking it DNF @25%. I'm disappointed, but I can’t connect with this one at all. The characters are one-dimensional, and the dialogue and reactions are weird and off-putting. It seems like every spoken line is followed by a sentence or two of unnecessary explanation. These appear to be problems inherent in the writing, rather than something that might get better as the book progresses, so I’m calling it. I might have dragged out that decision for longer but this is a library checkout, so I’m just taking it back.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Silke

    This book put a massive smile on my face and that’s all it took for me to love it. This was so freaking cute and romantic and so relatable. I loved how all the characters in here felt like one big family. This book radiated happiness to me and I enjoyed it so much. It’s the perfect lighthearted read for summer with lots of amazing diverse characters who I honestly want to be friends with so badly 😄 Rtc!

  21. 3 out of 5

    •°• gabs •°•

    i suddenly like soccer. there are a few things that irked me but i love these kids so much and i'm so soft that i'm just gonna give them five stars. i'm really soft y'all, my heart is full. ALSO this is a debut novel which???? amazing. i can't wait for julian's next book hsgadhadvah

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kav (xreadingsolacex)

    Book Bound Society July 2018 BOTM Julian Winters needs to meet me in the parking lot because that man just spent the last three hours playing with my emotions. Running With Lions is a phenomenal novel, and it is downright unbelievable to believe that it is a debut. Running With Lions is a young-adult contemporary novel about a soccer team, a band of brothers, that very casually includes diversity and features an unbearably adorable romance. Our main character, Sebastian, is bisexual, while is bes Book Bound Society July 2018 BOTM Julian Winters needs to meet me in the parking lot because that man just spent the last three hours playing with my emotions. Running With Lions is a phenomenal novel, and it is downright unbelievable to believe that it is a debut. Running With Lions is a young-adult contemporary novel about a soccer team, a band of brothers, that very casually includes diversity and features an unbearably adorable romance. Our main character, Sebastian, is bisexual, while is best friend's Willie and Mason are gay and experimenting, respectively, while the love interest, Emir, is British-Pakistani and gay. There are more marginalized identities represented among supporting characters, but if I had to list how well Winters did with representation, we'd be here for years. First of all, let's discuss this soccer team. I am not a sports person, but the way sports was incorporated into this novel was EVERYTHING. At the beginning of this novel, soccer was all Sebastian had. Soccer saved Sebastian. Soccer to Sebastian is what reading is to me, and it was so brilliant to see that in a novel. Not to mention this team truly is a family. The bond between these teens is unbreakable and they truly would murder for each other, and that was such a beautiful friendship to see. And now, let's discuss Sebastian. How do I even begin to discuss the literal perfect protagonist? Sebastian's character arc was such a powerful aspect of this novel. Though this novel had a plot and had a romance, it was also about Sebastian finding himself and seeing his journey was brilliant. But something I really want to touch on Sebastian being a survivor of bullying and body-shaming. I had no idea about this aspect going into the novel, but some of you will know that I was bullied growing up and have struggled greatly with body image after being treated badly for being fat growing up. Seeing Sebastian deal with the after-effects of bullying was something I related to so strongly - there was actually a point in the novel where I flat-out started crying because of how much I saw myself in Sebastian still struggling with something left over from mean kids years ago. And then there's Emir, the greatest love interest in all the land. Emir is also a survivor of bullying for his skin color, religion, and sexuality. To see him discuss the frankness with which people bullied him because of how he looks was so moving and impactful. He was brutally honest about his experiences growing up of color and as a Muslim and that was everything. And the way Sebastian and Emir came together was unforgettable. This was a friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romance and it perfectly executed. The connection between Sebastian and Emir was monumental and it really was true love. And seeing them navigate so many firsts in a complicated relationship made everything even more exquisite. The words I type here cannot even begin to describe how much their relationship moved me. And finally, the writing. Listen, third person present tense is such a rare form of writing and such a difficult form of writing and Winters executed it perfectly. This truly was the voice of a growing teen, but it also wasn't too childish. It was, like everything else in this novel, perfect. All these words don't do justice to Winters' talent and the impact of this novel. All I can do is strongly urge you to read it. Note: This is also the only book I've read with content/trigger warnings available on the first page and that is HUGE.

  23. 5 out of 5

    - ̗̀ DANY ̖́- (danyreads)

    . : ☾⋆ — 4 ★ i was deceived!!!! i was led to believe this was an enemies to lovers trope when it was actually a best friends to enemies to reluctant acquaintances to awkward buddies to bashful pining to intense but shy attraction TO LOVERS!!!!!!!! which is one hundred times better than enemies to lovers!!!!!! i’m not gonna lie, i’m a weak bitch when it comes to found family plots. add in some sports, and i absolutely melt. i don’t want to do the obvious and compare Running With Lions to The Foxho . : ☾⋆ — 4 ★ i was deceived!!!! i was led to believe this was an enemies to lovers trope when it was actually a best friends to enemies to reluctant acquaintances to awkward buddies to bashful pining to intense but shy attraction TO LOVERS!!!!!!!! which is one hundred times better than enemies to lovers!!!!!! i’m not gonna lie, i’m a weak bitch when it comes to found family plots. add in some sports, and i absolutely melt. i don’t want to do the obvious and compare Running With Lions to The Foxhole Court because in my opinion they were nothing alike?? just like everybody else on goodreads, i assumed this was gonna be a much cheesier and less violent version of TFC, but it really wasn’t?? i’m extremely happy to say that Running With Lions stood on its own. it was one of my most expected releases of the year, so i’m truly relieved that we’re out of the woods with this one. for a (kinda) self published/indie debut, i think the writing was pretty good!! the third person pov was a little confusing at times since there were SO many characters around all the time, but nothing too bad. speaking of the number of characters in this book, and despite the aforementioned confusion, i think julian winters did a FANTASTIC job at making each character’s voice a little distinct from the rest, otherwise this book would’ve been a pain to get through. there was only one little issue i had with the book, and it’s the reason why i’m giving this book four stars instead of five. bilingual characters. hear me out, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a diverse cast of characters!! it’s actually pretty realistic to have a cast of mostly non-white and non-straight characters!!! BUT. if you’re gonna have two latino/hispanic characters, and one pakistani character, all of whom have a second language that they use within the book, i think it’s only fair to do just a little bit of research. bilingual people don’t “forget to switch to english”. we don’t suddenly start speaking in our native language and then go oh lmao excuse me, “I can’t turn it off sometimes.” (an actual line of the book, said by our pakistani character). we meet one of the hispanic characters when he spews out a line in spanish, and the main character explains: “He’s developed a habit of switching between languages since his parents, originally from Puebla, speak exclusively in Spanish at home.” THAT’S NOT HOW BILINGUAL PEOPLE FUNCTION. as a native spanish speaker, it was actually kind of offensive (but it’s not that deep yall don’t drag me). i tried to look up if julian himself is bilingual and couldn’t find anything, so i’m going to assume that research failed us on this one. i read a bunch of reviews and nobody mentioned this inaccurate representation of bilingual people so I MIGHT AS WELL. other than that, though, this book was super cute and a perfect summer read. the positive notes on diversity, sexuality, race, religion, and even body image, are always a nifty addition to your everyday contemporary. and honestly adding in a bunch of soft ass gay and bi boys doesn’t hurt, if i do say so myself!!!!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    shady boots | #WatchPOSE

    This looks right up my homosexual alley. Hopefully NetGalley approves me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    I NEED THIS ASAP!!!!!!!!!!! GIMMIE BOOK GODS!! I DESERVE!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    This was a 4.25 star read for me, I have read this book really fast after I started yesterday and couldn't put it down. We accompany Sebastian as he goes, for the last time, to a summer training camp and his relationship with his old teammates and his new ones. This year they are joined by Emir, who used to be Sebastian's childhood friend but they grew apart. We get to follow along as they rebuilt their relationship. Have to say I loved all the characters but I had a soft spot for Sebastian our ma This was a 4.25 star read for me, I have read this book really fast after I started yesterday and couldn't put it down. We accompany Sebastian as he goes, for the last time, to a summer training camp and his relationship with his old teammates and his new ones. This year they are joined by Emir, who used to be Sebastian's childhood friend but they grew apart. We get to follow along as they rebuilt their relationship. Have to say I loved all the characters but I had a soft spot for Sebastian our main character. He was mature for his age and he was trying to find his place in life (like many of us are). He had some self-confidence issues, but he was a good kid, with a good heart and wanted people to like him. He didn't realize how good he was and how much the people around him looked up to him. He was the peacemaker of the team and a natural leader. Emir was another great character, was an introvert (much like myself), didn't like to socialize all that much and was confident about himself. He was someone that was proud of his roots and his family. In my opinion a perfect match for Sebastian. Willie, oh Willie, he was the sweetest boy ever :) Mason I hated him at times, but he was a loyal friend, much like Willie. He made me laugh a few times. Grey, I have to say that this girl won my heart, she was strong and someone who was not going to take crap from anyone. She made a big impression on me and I want a book about her. This was also the first book, that I have read, that had a male character with body image issues, and it was refreshing because that is not an issue only related to women but also men. It was great reading a male perspective on that issue. I loved the team relationship, they were accepting of one another and support each other like a real family. This story talks about acceptance, not just accepting our sexual orientation but also accepting ourselves as we are. We all have flaws and that's what makes us the people we are. I loved this story and recommend.

  27. 3 out of 5

    Ben

    There are so many layers of sweetness to Running With Lions. Start with the summertime landscape -- the sun shines, the sky is cotton-candy colored; you can practically smell the grass of the soccer pitch. Onto that, add a bunch of super-endearing teen characters of diverse ethnicities and sexual orientations, all of whom you want to cheer for from the first time you meet them. And finally add the love that binds this group of friends together as they struggle with teen dramas small and large, f There are so many layers of sweetness to Running With Lions. Start with the summertime landscape -- the sun shines, the sky is cotton-candy colored; you can practically smell the grass of the soccer pitch. Onto that, add a bunch of super-endearing teen characters of diverse ethnicities and sexual orientations, all of whom you want to cheer for from the first time you meet them. And finally add the love that binds this group of friends together as they struggle with teen dramas small and large, from who-likes-who, to self-acceptance and coming-out, to facing their uncertain post-high-school futures. There's something for just about everyone to love in this book, but I think LGBT teens in particular will go wild for it. Julian Winters (if he'll forgive me one soccer pun) really scored a goal with this book. I can't wait to see what he does next.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Bárbara

    Okay... This was an interesting reading experience. I didn't love this book, and it's killing me. I liked it, but sometimes barely. The writing was its weakest aspect, and when that fails, it's kind of a miracle if everything else doesn't fall apart. I think the story was too ambitious for the author to properly tackle in a balanced way: it feels strongly as if the intention was to address a handful of topics, but the pace never allowed to go in full depth to any at all. The only clear picture I Okay... This was an interesting reading experience. I didn't love this book, and it's killing me. I liked it, but sometimes barely. The writing was its weakest aspect, and when that fails, it's kind of a miracle if everything else doesn't fall apart. I think the story was too ambitious for the author to properly tackle in a balanced way: it feels strongly as if the intention was to address a handful of topics, but the pace never allowed to go in full depth to any at all. The only clear picture I got by the end (and it took forever to come together) was Sebastian's character arc. The rest of the things the book tried to address remain blurred pictures to me. It's like somebody started to tell me a story but then couldn't make up their mind as to whether it was worth telling me and kept me begging for details. In one word: unresolved. Unfinished (okay, those are two words, my bad). What do I mean when I say the writing was inconsistent? The story resorts to way too much telling and not enough showing. And sometimes the show doesn't match the tell (especially with the aspects of Sebastian's allegedly tight friendship with two characters he kept neglecting throughout the story in favor of Emir, who most of the times seemed desperate to shake Sebastian off). Also, personal impression but for a book allegedly about football (I'd be caught dead before I call it soccer), there was little focus in the narrative about that and way too much on hooking up and goofing off. I wish there had been much more balance. I admit, I struggled with the first half of the book, but the second half felt much stronger, like the author had started to find the footing of his story and was trying to steer it towards that desired point in the distance. However, complains aside (because I had them throughout the reading process), I have to hand this to Winters: Sebastian's character was pretty nicely developed, and he felt real as a boy his age. It was enfuriating sometimes, but even that was somewhat of a good thing. His character was definitely the strongest point of this book. I could easily see my teenage self in some aspects of him (and let me tell you how specially awesome I found the aspect of his issues with his image, or his insecurities about his lack of direction; it really spoke to me- so I can't be anything but grateful for that storyline existing). Last, a quick, super mega quick mention to how I wish certain tropes could Thanos-snap cease to exist. Grey was a fabulous character with lots of potential that deserved way better. And given that she was the most prominent female character around and was treated barely better than a trashcan, I'm almost thankful that Sebastian's mom and sister weren't around more (I was also tired by the second time Sam's name was brought up because it was always to point out how meaningless Sebastian's relationship with her was- I was honestly expecting at any given moment that Sebastian would realise he wasn't bi after all, that he was gay and that was why he never felt anything towards Sam, but no, that relationship just kept being pointlessly brought up, so that was nice *sarcasm*). OKAY. I'm done, I promise. I know, I know everything I said pretty much screams two stars, but I'm just in a venting mood today, I swear I enjoyed it more than it shows with so much bitching. This review is weird and a mess, and if that isn't a reflection of who I am then I don't know what could be more accurate. I'm off.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Francesca

    This was sweet and cute and offered a very well done look into growing up and being a usian teenager. That said I thought the pacing was slightly disjointed and the 3rd person present narrative voice irritated me to no end. If its purpose was to create a sense of urgency it didn't work for me, in fact it kind of slowed it down some. It also left me feeling that it was trying to do so many things: young people growing up and having to make decisions about their future, social commentary about spor This was sweet and cute and offered a very well done look into growing up and being a usian teenager. That said I thought the pacing was slightly disjointed and the 3rd person present narrative voice irritated me to no end. If its purpose was to create a sense of urgency it didn't work for me, in fact it kind of slowed it down some. It also left me feeling that it was trying to do so many things: young people growing up and having to make decisions about their future, social commentary about sports and sexuality, religion and inclusion, coming out, friendship. I think it realistically portrayed the mental status of the main character: the having to make choices, the pressure related to these, the feelings of being in love and at the same time not knowing what that means or entails. But the rest I felt it was a little superficial. The 12YO is reading this after me and I am keen to know what he thinks. The book is also intrinsically way too usian for my taste, which in fairness is preposterous given that I picked it and knew it was a usian book. I don't understand the pressure these kids are under to know what they want to do with their lives at 17 - it is completely ridiculous to me. Then there is the football: I am (originally) from Rome, every other Sunday my father would take me to the Roma matches, we played it in parks and on the street. It was a way of life for us and this is supposedly a book about football but I felt it stayed firmly on the background and it could have been anything else: just like a background, a setting against which to develop the plot. I enjoyed the book but I never really fell in love with it. Maybe it is cultural - I am finding it more and more difficult to enjoy usian contemporaries; maybe it is an age thing - I recognise that the book will be important to its intended audience but I felt it was a bit too superficial. All in all this is a lovely, sweet look at teenagers on the cusp of growing up, it was enjoyable and it kept me good company on a lazy Saturday. I would definitively recommend reading it especially to teenagers. Understanding and embracing diversity start with books like this.

  30. 3 out of 5

    Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)

    This review can also be found here. DNF at 69% This book isn’t my usual read. I picked it up because I saw glowing things about it, then it had tons of rep, and it was on sale. But, as I said, it’s not my usual read. I don’t just pick up YA unless I know for sure it’s going to be my cup of tea. (Which is why I turn to Chantel for recommendations. She knows my taste and reads YA. I trust her with them.) I gave this two stars because it is an okay book, just not for me. I DNFed it because I didn’t wan This review can also be found here. DNF at 69% This book isn’t my usual read. I picked it up because I saw glowing things about it, then it had tons of rep, and it was on sale. But, as I said, it’s not my usual read. I don’t just pick up YA unless I know for sure it’s going to be my cup of tea. (Which is why I turn to Chantel for recommendations. She knows my taste and reads YA. I trust her with them.) I gave this two stars because it is an okay book, just not for me. I DNFed it because I didn’t want to force myself to read it and ruin the rest of my reads for this month. This book is a good book, just not for me. For me, my decision to DNF this came down to three different factors that really feed into one another. First, there was no other plot to this book besides romance. Romance is good and fine. I like it when I’m in the mood. But, I wanted something more. There was no plot driving the story forward, no way to make it interesting for me. Second, the pacing was weird. Really weird. It just felt too slow at some points and too fast at others. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Mainly, it dragged. It felt like all of it dragged along. Then, the romance just came too fast. I was supposed to believe they went from enemies (and not really enemies, just ex-friends who fell out and didn’t talk anymore) to lovers. But they had no chemistry. I wasn’t rooting for them to get together. Which leads me to point three. I didn’t think any of the characters were interesting. There were no characters — and there was quite a large cast of characters — that interested me. I can’t even tell you their names. I kept forgetting the MC’s name, let alone all of these teammates. All of that being said, it’s not a terrible book. I think that it has an audience, but I am not that audience at all.

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