Running With Lions by Julian Winters

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5stars

“Bastian, you can do whatever you want, when you want. The only thing in life you have to do is live it.”

Title: Running With Lions
Author: Julian Winters
Number of pages: 299 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: I loved the characters and how the story was told, so simply yet so deeply.
Bad things about this book: An epilogue maybe? A couple years into the future. I’m greedy, I know.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I loved it!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Life is a summer storm of insecure thoughts. There’s an umbrella of precautions to prevent insecurity, but it doesn’t always keep the rain out of your face.

I don’t know almost anything about football (or soccer, or however you call the sport with 11 players each team and a round ball). I don’t know much about sports, period. I have read books with characters involve in some kind of sport (real or made up) and I’ve stuck with it and was intrigued by it because the book wasn’t really about the sport per se, but about friendships, love and family. Team spirit gets to me, the comradery, the feelings that come from loving something so much and putting every ounce of you in it: my heart melts!

So when I saw for the very first time someone talking about Running With Lions, I knew that I was going to love it. Diverse book with a sweet love story, relatable themes and full of queer characters? Count me in! And it came out during Pride Month; that had to be a sign I needed to buy it and read it. I’m so glad I did. It was one of the sweetest books I’ve read in quite a while. It did have my dreaded miscommunication that made the characters waste so much time, but the story flowed to well that I almost didn’t mind my frustration. Almost.

“People dislike other people for the wrong reasons,” Emir says. “Doesn’t mean we should act like them.”

This book is sweet and deals with something I haven’t seen dealt with in none of the books I’ve read; male body issues. Sebastian is struggling with his body; he was chubby in the past and the bullism left him so scarred he exercised too much, hates looking at himself in the mirror, and he spirals into self-hate when he sees a tiny bit of fat on his body. His mind makes him see his body as a horrible vessel he’s forced to carry. I struggled a lot reading some scenes because I got him, I really got what he was going through, and I was worried he was overexerting himself with running and too little food.

For such a sought-after emotion, love sure comes with a lot of answerless questions.

I came to care about all the characters, all their different personalities, their flaws, their feelings for each other. I read the book with just a break for dinner. I wanted to see how things were going to end between Sebastian and Emir, how the characters would grow, learn from their mistakes and live their last year of high school being as happy as they could be, surrounded by people they trust and love. Running with Lions put me in such a nostalgic mood: a little sad and a little happy. Those boys have all their lives ahead of themselves. They’re so lucky.

“Just because people create rules doesn’t mean those are your rules.”

With a few tears but a big smile on my face, I can’t but recommend you this book. I’m glad there are much more books like this in this world today. We need them and I’m so happy teenagers today can grow up seeing themselves represented on paper and see that there’s nothing wrong with them. I’d love them to feel that there are people out there that will love them exactly for who they are and that, whatever obstacle is put in their way, they aren’t alone to face them.

Happy Pride Month, everyone! Be proud of who you are!

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Noah Could Never by Simon James Green

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5stars

“There is no one better, Noah. No one will ever be like you. There is only different. And in the future, everything is different. So you can choose to live in the anxious misery of what might be, or you can choose the glorious comfort of the here and now. I would pick the now. Tomorrow could be anything.”

Title: Noah Could Never
Author: Simon James Green
Series: Noah Can’t Even #2

Number of pages: 403 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: It’s hilarious and you can’t help to keep loving Noah.
Bad things about this book: The only bad thing is that I can’t seem to have enough of Noah so that’s my only complain, I wanted a bible-long book about him.
Do I recommend it? OMG OF COURSE YES DO IT!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Was this as good as it was going to get? After sixteen, was it basically a steady decline towards arthritis, mobility scooters and the grave? Sodding hell.

I love Noah to pieces and I love how twisted and random his little brain is. What I don’t love is how mess somehow mixes in his everyday life; my boy can’t catch a break. Between freaking out about taking his relationship with Harry to the next level, the French exchange students, a drag queen on the run, a car following his every move, and his half-brother being shady as hell, Noah really doesn’t know how not to lose his mind. And he barely succeeds in not doing so.

This book is the usual hilarious rollercoaster, one hell of an adventure. It messed up with my feelings. I felt so much for Noah and how his overthinking was going to ruin everything good he had going on in his life. The feelings were really strong. I was happy, then mad, then worried (so much worried), then I cried a bit, worried a little more, then I finished the book and exhaled a long sigh of relief.

“I meant what I said. Let’s not be interested in the rest of the world when we’re each other’s worlds.”

Noah and Harry have been boyfriends for two months; they’ve been kissing like crazy, but Noah is scared to take things to a sexier level. He thinks there is something wrong with him because he is a teenager, so he should be thinking about sex at all times, and he isn’t. He is just too worried about what this means, about what that can changed the perception Harry has of himself. He doesn’t think he is enough for Harry; he is not manly enough, he hasn’t got abs, he worries about the most random things, and his life has so much going on that it’s a miracle Harry found Noah interesting in the first place.

Sometimes, having something really nice in your life was worse than not having it, because it made you worries you were going to lose it. And losing something is worse when you know just how wonderful that thing is.

I knew that Noah’s insecurities were going to bring problems to his relationship. I worried so much about their happiness you’ll think they were my best friends. Noah overthinks and by overthinking he makes one mistake after the other. I was on edge all the time; I was on edge even as I was laughing my butt off at the hilarity of the situations Noah finds himself involved.

This might be London, and it might all be very hip, but they’d forgotten about the one thing that was always en vogue: good grammar.

I love Noah so much: his quirks and love for things done the right way! He always tries his best even when life seems to be doing everything to throw things in his way. He might think he is very unlucky in a lot of things, but he doesn’t see just how lucky he actually is, how many people are on his side and love him just the way he is.

“When you next see me I will have thwarted a criminal endeavour and been to London. I will be a changed person. Take a long hard look at the boy, for he will return a man.”

I can’t write how many things are going on at the same time because, trust me, there are a lot of things going on in this book. I guess you just need to read it and find out!

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If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

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4stars

I thought about how every person could hold two truths inside of them, how impossible it felt sometimes to have your insides and outsides aligned.

Title: If I Was Your Girl
Author: Meredith Russo
Good things about this book: Amanda is a delightful and strong character!
Bad things about this book: Nothing bad just but check for triggers before reading.
Do I recommend it? I do!
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

This is a very difficult book to review because I will never understand what it means to be Amanda. I will never be in her position; to have the same fears she has, to not being able to be a 100% true to the people she knows and to herself. At the end of the book there is the note from the author explaining how it must be viewed, either if you are trans like Amanda or if you identify with the gender you were born with.

In the note the author writes about how she simplified the struggles Amanda has to face to made us understand her better without asking ourselves too many questions; can people tell she is trans? No, because she is very feminine. Will people see she is trans by mistake while entering the bathroom unannounced? No, because she could afford a surgery most people wouldn’t be able to pay. Will they see her as a girl even after knowing she wasn’t born with the body of one? Read the book and find out.

“You can have anything,” she said, “once you admit you deserve it.”

I know trans people but knowing them and seeing them transitioning doesn’t mean you understand everything they’re going through and what they are feeling. I can only be myself and see them how they want to be seen, how they are on the inside that they want to be seen also on the outside. So one day he is a guy’s name and the next day she is a girl and she stays a girl, so what? They tell me they have a new name, new pronoun to use and that’s that. From my part, I can’t see why it has to be hard.

People frustrate me. They give hate to the wrong people for no reasonable motive; they spend so much energy hating something so simply to understand with a little effort. Sometimes I think they want to be scared of something so badly to feel better with themselves that they don’t care to see they are “scared” for absolutely no reason. For example I can’t stop being angry for the “bathroom issue” and I smile every time a place doesn’t have different bathrooms for different genders. Little steps. Maybe too little sometimes.

We have three bathrooms at work. One is on the first floor and everyone can go because there is no sign on the door. The other two were mistakenly decorated with the male and female symbol on the door and if the male one is occupied, the male coworkers wait instead of going inside the other one. A simple sticker on the door plays so hard with their minds they are willingly waiting hours to pee instead of putting their masculinity in danger going inside the girl’s bathroom. The reason I’ve been told? “It feels weird, it’s for girls.” How dumb is that? It’s the exact same bathroom as the other two, only with a sticker on the door. A stinking sticker with zero value, zero utility.

This book made me see things differently, not only because it takes place in the USA and I live in Italy so many things don’t happen here or I simply failed to look closer. I don’t go out much so I only have three places to compare experiences: my workplace, my house and the LGBTIQA+ community I’m a member of. I don’t really know the real world and even if I had struggles growing up, being an immigrant latina in a white country, I have to say I’m privileged enough to have lived my life peacefully. That’s how it has to be for everyone else and we will keep fighting, we will keep marching, keep doing whatever we can, even if small, to make the world a better place for every single person living in it.

I realized, I wasn’t sorry I existed anymore. I deserved to live. I deserved to find love. I knew now—I believed, now—that I deserved to be loved.

I’m sorry I didn’t talk about the book, mainly to avoid spoilers also because some books need to be experienced without insights, but rest assured I liked it and I recommend it. It is hard, it is triggering (so, beware), it isn’t for everyone but if you want a book that gives you a point of view you are missing and you want to understand then this is a book you have to read.

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Leo Loves Aries by Anyta Sunday

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5stars

“The more time and emotional dollars you invest into a relationship, the more you inspire trust that encourages the other person to spend more of their own emotional dollars. In a positive outcome, this spending will lead to more emotional wealth. Or, translated, love.”

Title: Leo Loves Aries
Author: Anyta Sunday
Good things about this book: All the main characters are adorable and relatable!
Bad things about this book: Nothing, I loved it.
Do I recommend it? I do, very much recommended!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

All hail Matthew Daddario! He is the reason I read this book, besides being also the reason of so many swooning moments (the Daddario siblings are something else | we’re not worthy). I happened to notice the cover of this book randomly and clicked it because the cover model looked so much like my beloved Matthew and I, of course, couldn’t leave a Daddario picture unclicked, that’s not how I was raised. One innocent click led me to read the blurb and I was sold.

This was exactly the kind of love story that brings me joy and laughter and hope and sunshine and rainbows. Was I wrong to think that? Of course not. It brought me feelings I wanted to have and it left me craving for more and not only literary and virtual feelings, I now want real life feelings too! Oh, this is bad! A side effect I was not expecting.

Theo Wallace lives with his blind sister, Leone, and is looking for a roommate. What a lucky coincidence a certain ex-tutor of Theo, Mr. Jamie Cooper, is looking for a place to live. Theo and Leone are trying hard to move on from the end of both their love relationships (his girlfriend and her boyfriend fell for each other and now they’re getting married. Sucks, right?); Theo thinks Jamie might be perfect for his sister.

Really, Theo. You’re an idiot. That’s an F on the paper of life.

Was he the only one in the whole world who didn’t see how Jamie had his eyes set on him from their very first conversation via email? It was so obvious and Theo’s obliviousness was at the same time adorable and frustrating. It was clear as day Theo had more than friendship feelings towards Jamie but he didn’t really entertained the idea of Jamie being gay so everything the boy did to get his attention passed as a best friend kind of thing. Poor Jamie, he tried so hard, so many sentences with obvious double meanings, all wasted.

Theo followed the hot yumminess—and the pizza.

Theo has always thought he was attracted only to women so he didn’t really think about having feelings for a guy. Sure he can see and admire a guy’s good looks but how do you start realizing this is more than just a friend’s thing starting to become a real crush, and then possibly love? How are we to understand if a person is flirting, being funny or just being really friendly? I liked how, when Theo realized he was curious, he didn’t hide it; he went to Jamie and said how he didn’t see himself falling for a guy (oh, you fool boy) but he was willing to explore the sexual part of said curiosity? *PSA: Steamy moments of lust straight ahead*

“Are you insane? I’m sleeping until seven.”
“Your choice.” Jamie swatted his ass. “But you can’t complain when there’s no time for morning fun.”
“Six hours is good. Know what? So is five and a half.”

He’s in for a rollercoaster of a situation. This is a slow-burn kind of love. Things happen slowly yet not in a boring way: seeing those two develop a relationship that transcends the “original plan of Theo” gives it a reality stamp of approval from yours truly. Not everything is instant in life, things take time and the more they know each other, the more they see how it’s not an impulsive decision to try to be more than what they are now and, being such great friends, nothing but good things can come out of it. So it’s worth a try, right?

Theo: Maybe you’re overthinking it? You’ve been staring at that document all night.
Jamie: Almost as long as you’ve been staring at me, then.

I love Theo and Jamie and their shenanigans. I could read about them grocery shopping for thousands of pages and not get bored. Well, I could read about them doing their assignments separately from opposite sides of the dining room and still not get bored. That’s how much I loved them and this entire book.

“If you want to understand the principle of scarcity, just look in the fridge for vegetables after your brother has gone shopping.”

I can understand Theo’s behavior very well. You see someone you think is cute and you don’t see anything wrong in thinking that. Then some time later you see someone else being really cute and funny and still you think it’s normal, you like this person as a potential friend. Then time goes by and you keep looking at people and getting these feelings and you start having different kind of thoughts and your brain kindly announces you that, dear girl, you’re definitely not straight. Then the world gets a little bit brighter and maybe you can have it all, the possibilities multiplied, right? Right??

Reality checks in and you remember you’re not like Theo: you’re not easy going with a charmingly funny personality, with beautiful green eyes, dimples for days and a handsome face. You also don’t have a Jamie who enters your world like a gray-eyed fairy HOTmother. You get a bit sad, of course, but maybe that’s just me: the entire world to love but not a single soul to love me back. Guess I have to start reading my horoscope and hope this Scorpio woman gets a little bit of action. Stars, don’t disappoint me, I’m not getting any younger here!

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You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan

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“The heart is a treacherous beast.”
“But it means well.”

Title: You Know Me Well
Author: Nina LaCour & David Levithan
Why you should read this book: Because it’s a friendship at first sight and it tells a story that will make you happy and sad at the same time.

Summary from Goodreads:

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

I hate that word. Straight. At the very least, those of us who are nonstraight should be called curvy. Or scenic. Actually, I like that: ‘Do you think she’s straight?’ ‘Oh no. She’s scenic.’

This story is about friendship. This story takes place about one week to high school graduation and it involved two persons who know each other but have never spoken to each other in the only class they share. They meet one night at a club during the first day of Pride Week in San Francisco and it’s friendship at first word, let’s say that. Mark is the perfect guy, beautiful and athletic, he is eternally in love with his best friend Ryan. They have fooled around since they were younger and Mark fell really hard for him but it seems that Ryan, forever in the closet, doesn’t think of their friendship in the same way. Mark struggles, his heart is full of one-sided love and it’s bad. He loves Ryan so much it hurts.

Would I fight for him? I have been fighting for him for years. And I’m losing. No matter what I do, I’m losing. But I have to fight anyway.

Kate is the art genius who has been in love with her best friend cousin she has never met. She loves Violet so much and has never spoken to her and now that she has the chance to meet her, she is freaking out. She also is struggling with life, love and the prospect of a future that has to thrill her but it doesn’t. She doesn’t really know what she wants and she seeks Mark’s help. Their sudden friendship helps them both to come to terms with the chaos that is their lives at the moment.

I’m trying to figure myself out. I keep failing.

In one week everything changes. Kate has to find out what she really wants and pursue it without losing the only person she wants in her life. She is also having problems with her best friend. She is questioning the nature of said friendship asking herself if they haven’t changed too much and maybe they can’t have what they’d had until that day. She needs to see her choices and her life in perspective and for that she needs Mark, an outsider that will become really important for her growth. And it will only take a week.

Also, I don’t want to be a best friend if I can’t also be a boy in his eyes. I don’t want to be a calendar if I’ll never get a date.

Mark needs to confess his overwhelming feelings to Ryan and move on because Ryan has met someone and Mark needs to understand that it’s not meant to be even if in his head them being together feels perfect. Ryan doesn’t want to lose his best friend but he can’t reciprocate his feelings because the love he feels is not the same love Mark feels and I think Mark knew that but didn’t want to see it because it hurt so much.

He’s not doing it to hurt me. I have to believe that. He’s doing it to make himself happy. Which just happens to hurt me.

One week to change their world and be happy. One week to see deep inside themselves, see what’s wrong and fix what’s fixable. One week isn’t much but for them it is enough and it will take them to where they are supposed to be. The future is not written, our choices change it but hope has to be there all the time or else giving up will be too tempting. Giving up is easy; too easy and belittling ourselves comes naturally. Just remember not to give up and if you don’t think you can do it alone find someone willing to help you; it’s never too late to change your life if you think it’s not the life you want.

Here we come – through hard days and good ones, through despair and through exhilaration, in love and out of love, for just now or for forever. Here we come. It’s our parade.

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Bonus quote:

“Ice cream? Is that really part of the coming-out process?”
“Hells, yes. Ben and Jerry have lasted so long together – they’re our role models.”

Do I recommend it? Yes, it’s adorable even with its heartbreaking parts, it’s worth your time.
Rate: 4/5

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