Running With Lions

Running With Lions

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...

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Title:Running With Lions
Author:Julian Winters
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Running With Lions Reviews

  • anna (readingpeaches)

    3.5 ☆

    My initial review for

    basically just said: “this book proves that 1) sports are inherently gay & 2) goalies are the best kind of

    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

    3.5 ☆

    My initial review for

    basically just said: “this book proves that 1) sports are inherently gay & 2) goalies are the best kind of

    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

    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

    here, it’s great in that aspect! But then? We would also get the dreaded

    ? 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,

    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,

    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.

  • ⚔ Silvia ⚓

    ✨ Full review now posted!

    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

    ✨ Full review now posted!

    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!

    Discussions of body shaming, bullying, Islamophobia, and a scene featuring homophobic taunting/language.

    ____

    Hold on a minute are you telling me that this is a

    that features the superior trope aka

  • ✨    jamieson   ✨

    I mean !! Sebastian, a bi disaster really going out there and Doing That, just snatching himself up a man over summer camp? Iconic!

    So

    basically follows a team called The Lions who are at their summer sports camp.

    I mean !! Sebastian, a bi disaster really going out there and Doing That, just snatching himself up a man over summer camp? Iconic!

    So

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

  • ✧ k a t i e ✧

    Um, why isn't there more hype around this book? Cause there should be. Everyone needs to read this book.

    This book was

    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

    Um, why isn't there more hype around this book? Cause there should be. Everyone needs to read this book.

    This book was

    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

    ) 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

  • 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.

  • Em

    Cracking open a cold one with the lions, except it’s my cold icy heart and they’re teaching me how to love again...

    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...

    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.

    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.

    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!

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  • chandler ainsley ❁

    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

    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.

    - 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.

  • Sabrina The Trash Queen

    Can’t wait to start reading this one!

  • 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,

    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,

    - 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*

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