Book review: Running With Lions by Julian Winters

Running With Lions by Julian Winters
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: June 7, 2018
Source: Purchased at BookCon!
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.

So, basically, I’ve been counting down the minutes until this was released ever since I first saw it pop up on a list of Becky Albertalli’s diverse YA recommendations. I also saw early reviews and was denied for it on Netgalley (still crying, honestly) but it’s all good because I bought it at BookCon! Ahead of publication, even!

While I was at BookCon, I met Julian Winters. He’s the only author I actually interacted with there, and he was so nice. He personalized my book for me, we had a little conversation about how I’m Sara with no H, and he told me to tag him in my review if I love it and just throw away the book if I hate it. I’m not throwing away the book, Julian. It was so cute.

I’ll be honest, it took me a minute to adjust to the writing style. I’m not really used to third person present tense narration, but it’s okay. I got used to it. And, honestly, this is what a YA sports romance should be like. None of the petty arguments and random physical altercations that plagued my last attempt at the genre. I’m not a big sports person (much to the dismay of every elderly man that tries to talk about the Green Bay Packers with me), but I’m like 99% sure this is how a team is supposed to function. These kids make such a great team. Even the conflict (Emir not quite fitting in) feels really realistic and I thought the whole thing was just very well-done.

The romance itself was super cute, and I guess we can safely say that I have a thing for friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romances, because I almost always enjoy them. Sebastian and Emir were so cute together (how many times can I say cute in one review??) and I was rooting for them the whole time. I loved how accepting the whole team was and how much they stood up for each other.

The last thing I want to say is that I loved all the music references! The team is always listening to some kind of good music, be it Fall Out Boy or The 1975 or fun. There are also a couple Taylor Swift references, and if that’s not the way to my heart, I don’t even know what is.

I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a cute (there’s that word again!) M/M YA romance.

Goodreads summer reading challenge: sports-a-holic

Have you read Running With Lions? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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19 thoughts on “Book review: Running With Lions by Julian Winters

  1. Sahi says:

    Lovely review Sara… and I agree, we can’t use the word “cute” enough to describe this one…
    Just like you, I have no clue about sports but do like reading sports romances… but I have to say that this is probably the best team I’ve read about till now… and the Coach is so wonderful…
    I’m so jealous you got to speak to the author.. I missed BookCon but I hope I’ll make it next time 😊😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sofia @ BookishWanderess says:

    This is one of my highly anticipated releases of this year and I’m looking forward to reading it, I need all the super cute books in my life. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I can’t wait to read about Sebastian, Emir and the rest of the team. Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. strugglingbookaholic says:

    I’ve heard of this one but I didn’t know too much about it. Based on your review though, it sounds amazing! I’m really glad you enjoyed it so much 🙂 And I love how you linked your Starry Eyes review because as soon as you started describing the relationship between Sebastian and Emir that was the first thing to pop in to my head! I loved the friends-to-enemies-to-lovers romance in Starry Eyes so much but I think it’s the only I’ve read in a while so I’m definitely going to have to check this one out! Also, Julian’s note to you is so cute ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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