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Kissing Max Holden

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Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea...

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn't himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn't know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn't let him kiss her. But she can't resist, and when they're caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it'll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?

304 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 2017

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Katy Upperman

4 books309 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 339 reviews
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,339 reviews354 followers
November 20, 2017
About: Kissing Max Holden is a young adult contemporary written by Katy Upperman. It was published on 8/1/17 by Swoon Reads, an imprint of Macmillan, hardcover, 304 pages. The genres are contemporary, young adult, romance, and fiction. This book is intended for readers ages 13 to 18 and it is the author’s debut novel.

My Experience: I started reading Kissing Max Holden on 11/12/17 and finished it on 11/20/17. This book is a fantastic read! I like the mention of Disney World’s Space Mountain because I have been there, (though my 5-year-old has a big scare of his life for my lack of research because that roller coaster ride is definitely not for kids!). It’s extra interesting how a 17 year old can expect to have a younger sibling at this age. I like the mention of fertility treatment because it’s real life stuffs and it’s good to see what others are going through. I like the diversity with the supporting characters.

This book is told in the first person point of view, following Jillian Eldridge, 17, who likes to bake delicious desserts. She learns how to bake from Marcy, Max Holden’s mom and neighbor. Max is Jill’s best friend growing up but later drifted apart. The two family celebrated many holidays together until Max’s dad stroke. The stroke left him in wheelchair and different. Max blames himself and turns to underage drinking and causing troubles. Jill’s life is less than perfect. She’s overcome with a lot more responsibilities at home now that her step mom’s pregnant. She’s not excited for the unborn baby because the baby has taken away her chances at the Culinary school in New York. At the same time, she’s pining after the guy who’s unavailable and the guy who her dad told her to stay away from. On top of everything, she worries that she’s her father’s daughter when she finds out what she’s been doing is parallel to what her dad’s been doing.

This book is very well written. I love the Holden family. I love the meals with everyone at the table. I like Kyle and what a great friend he is to Jill. I like that Jill has a job. Jill’s baking makes my mouth water. I like the Bunco party, though I’m not familiar with this game. I like the beginning how Jill’s dad caught her and the ending how Jill caught him. Very cool. I like the concept in family and love. The story ties up nicely and I highly recommend everyone to read this book!

Pro: fast paced, page turner, easy to read, humor, love, family, diversity, romance

Con: none

I rate it 5 stars!

***Disclaimer: I won this book from the author, Katy Upperman through her giveaway on Twitter. Please be assured that my opinions are honest. I’m super excited to have won the book, but a candle, bookmark, and chocolate chip cookies recipe on top of autographs are a plus! Thank you Katy!

Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
Profile Image for Riley Edgewood.
Author 8 books157 followers
February 20, 2016
Oh man. This book. THIS BOOK.

This book gracefully broke my heart. And then triumphantly pieced it (mostly) back together. Upperman's created a beautifully complicated story full of romance and complex characters and heart achingly hard situations--but without ever allowing a reader to lose hope.

The main character, Jillian, is strong from the start. She knows what she wants and how her world works and she's had her sights set on a prestigious culinary arts school for as long as she can remember. And then there's Max, the boy she grew up with who lives across the street. He's a damn mess--but with good reason. He's the kind of bad boy who's really worth rooting for because Upperman gives readers a window into his heart and his mind and his life.

Put the two of them in the same scene? Jilly and Max? Oh man, the chemistry is ridiculous. Tie it all together with a plot that keeps you guessing and prose that makes the ride completely gorgeous, and you've got a romance that you'll never forget reading and one hell of an amazing book.

The book's pub date isn't until 2017. Which, yes, is basically forever from now, but trust me--it'll be worth the wait.
Profile Image for Erin Bowman.
Author 15 books1,936 followers
December 18, 2015
My official comments: "Full of wit, humor, and spine-tingling smooches, KISSING MAX HOLDEN combines the classic themes of contemporary romance with riveting family drama. … I literally could not put this book down and would buy a physical copy for my shelf in a heartbeat. I can't wait to read what Katy writes next."

My unofficial comments: 2017 can't come fast enough!!! I can't wait for everyone to fall in love with Jill and Max!!!
Profile Image for Christina.
Author 5 books395 followers
June 4, 2016
LOVED this one! Katy Upperman gives us a realistic story about two teens dealing with impossible family situations who can't deny the magnetic pull they feel toward each other.
Profile Image for Rebecca Ross.
Author 8 books7,144 followers
November 29, 2016
This book has been on my radar ever since I first saw the title (kissing? YES PLEASE). So I was extremely happy to get my hands on an ARC.

First things first:
Before reading this, make the best homemade cookies or brownies or cakes or tarts that you can. Or go buy some from a bakery. I promise that you are gonna want something sweet and delicious while you read this, because our heroine Jilly bakes some incredible treats throughout this book and I was pining after them.

Secondly, don't plan to read just one chapter. I pretty much sat down one evening and ended up reading over half the book, staying up way past my bedtime. It was just too good to put down.

I honestly don't read too much contemporary these days, but this book seriously made me feel like I was 17 again. The butterflies. Those sleepless nights. Growing pains. College dreams. Little siblings. The boy you simply cannot get out of your head. I honestly felt it all again, like it was yesterday, which is why I love YA more than anything else, and why I truly loved this book!

Profile Image for Tracey Neithercott.
Author 1 book117 followers
June 8, 2017
Second read and, yep, still love this book. I'm going to write a longer review closer to the pub date, but bottom line: It’s a sure bet for contemporary romance fans, but above that it’s a story packed with really beautiful writing, rich characters (who aren’t perfect but who you root for anyway), and family dynamics that add depth to the story. Best to read it with a sweet treat—Jilly’s baking is going to make you crave cake and cookies big time.


I was lucky enough to read an early draft of Kissing Max Holden, Katy Upperman's gorgeously written YA romance about two old friends who have drifted apart but are slowly coming back together. The writing is beautiful, characters flawed but real, and plot fast paced. I'll admit I wasn't on Team Max at the beginning—he's a bit of a loser and a total mess. But his transformation throughout the book was great, and he completely won me over. In terms of side characters, I appreciate that Katy wrote Max's girlfriend not as the cliche mean girl who deserves to be treated poorly but someone readers can sympathize with. The fact that I was rooting for both her and Jillian shows just how talented a writer Katy is. Fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Morgan Matson, and Jessi Kirby will especially appreciate the well-crafted family dynamics (Jillian's relationship with her new step-mom is particularly well done).

The downside: You won't meet your new book boyfriend until 2017.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,742 reviews712 followers
July 16, 2017
BFF to more is one of my favorite tropes and even though I wasn't thrilled with the girlfriend aspect, I was excited to read this book.

I love love loved Jillian. She's strong and loyal and one hell of a baker. I enjoyed how passionate she was about pastries and my mouth was watering over all of the things she made. Max was cocky and sweet and so so so infuriating. Together they were adorable.

Plot wise, there was a good amount of push and pull between Jillian and Max, but I could overlook a lot of it because Jillian never backed down. She stood up for herself, she spoke her feelings even when Max didn't or wouldn't. The small miscommunications also didn't register too much because they were open about so many other, more major issues.

This story is heavily character driven and I loved every part of it. Well, except for Jillian's dad, but whatever. I would have liked just a little bit more from the ending, but it was satisfying at the same time. I'm sure I'll be skimming parts of this book in the future.

**Huge thanks to Swoon Reads for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Monica Murphy.
Author 101 books14.6k followers
September 26, 2017
I LOVED THIS BOOK. Max Holden was so freaking angsty, gah. But in a good way. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for alice.
270 reviews335 followers
July 16, 2017
2.5 stars.

I wasn't a huge fan of this novel when I first started it, due to the girl-on-girl hate and slut-shaming, and upon finishing it, I'm still thinking of bumping this rating down. Essentially, the plot revolves around Jill and Max, childhood best friends, becoming a bit more after they kiss while Max has a girlfriend, Becky. Drama ensues, and some stuff happens, basically.

This novel made me mad in a few ways:
- Max talks about how he broke up with Becky: "She's humiliated - she made that very clear, right after she burst into tears and slapped me." Explain to me how physical abuse is okay??
- Jill slut shames: "First I hate the limited selection of costumes available to girls my age (slutty nurse or skanky angel... no, thank you." If I wanna dress like a slutty nurse, I FUCKING WILL.
- Jill literally has no friends and only pines over Max while he has a girlfriend. She has one real friend, and she's mentioned like two times within the whole novel. I don't even remember her name because she's literally background noise.
- Cheating. So much cheating! Max cheats on Becky; Jill's dad, Jack, cheats on Meredith, her stepmom while she's pregnant with his baby daughter. So that's cool.

The cheating thing is interesting though, because at the end of the novel, Max does think about his actions and how he's hurt Becky. Can't say the same about Jack though, since his first wife left him because he cheated, and now his second wife is separating with him because he's cheating. Literally keep it in your pants. Please.

Another thing I noted is that Jill is very set on going to International Culinary Institute in NYC, and I liked how passionate she was about her future and her career. However, when she finds out that her parents used up her college tuition for fertility treatments and for the baby, she's upset for like 5 minutes and never brings it up again until the very end. I don't know about you, but I'd be fucking pissed.

Overall, I'm not too impressed by this book, but it was filled with lots of ugly drama, if that's your thing. Can't say I'm too happy with the internalized misogyny though. That being said, I'm leaning more towards the 2 range rather than the 3.

Thank you to Macmillan and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Liz Parker.
Author 1 book206 followers
December 18, 2015
I had the opportunity to read MAX when it was up on Swoon Reads this November, and after I read it I told EVERY person I could think of to read and comment. The world NEEDS this book.

Katy's prose is beautiful and fun, both heart-wrenching and comedic. Her characters jump of the page as real, fresh, and raw. From Max's first appearance at Jillian's window through their growth throughout the book, I was sold. I actually couldn't put it down once I'd started.

I can't wait to see how Katy and the Swoon Reads editorial team work together to continue to improve it, but I can tell you that you MUST read this book when it comes out!
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 3 books234 followers
April 24, 2017
Second read - the ARC. Loved it just as much the second time around.

I was able to read this when it was up on Swoon Reads and it's amazing. Can't wait to be able to hold this book and read it again.
Profile Image for Meredith.
Author 3 books116 followers
July 1, 2016
I didn't want this to end! The story is deep and layered, and holy hell with that twist at the end! I did not see that coming! I think what I loved best were the characters, each flawed (some way more than others) but perfectly believable. Jillian and Max are perfection. I adore them separately but especially together. What a great story to curl up with on a weekend. Now I only wish I could get a few of Jillian's dessert recipes...
Profile Image for Karole Cozzo.
Author 6 books232 followers
December 7, 2016
***THE book for readers who adore stories about broken boys (that aren’t too far gone) and the girls that love them (but know when to say when).***

There’s nothing I love me like a brooding broken boy. I consider myself somewhat of a brooding broken boy connoisseur if you will, and so when I say Max Holden won me over in chapter 1, I don’t make that statement lightly. In truth, all of Upperman’s characters won me over quickly, perhaps because I found them so authentic and charming from the get-go. Upperman writes characters and scenes that make you feel like you’ve known them and been there. It’s the tiny details that make them real. For example, I adored that Max didn’t crawl through the window in a full-blown pirate costume… but half a pirate costume and a pair of worn sweats. It’s these small distinctions, woven throughout the story, that bring Jillian to life, Max to life, and the simmering feelings between them to life.

I read a lot of books in the name of supporting fellow authors, but a book has to truly pull me in for me to finish it in less than twenty-four hours. Kissing Max Holden has the distinction of doing just that, and if you are a lover of contemporary romances set in small towns with a hefty dose of family drama thrown in the mix, I’m confident you’ll love this one as much as I did.
Here are my top five faves about Kissing Max Holden:

1) The issues burdening Max were just troubling enough. Sometimes, authors create scenarios that leave a broken boy so far gone, it’s difficult to believe any girl can help him back to redemption. Upperman’s portrayal of a family trying to recover from a life-jarring medical issue felt spot-on in terms of emotional impact, heartbreaking exchanges, and occasional dramatic culminations. The situation was believably difficult without being too difficult or weighing the story down overall. I commend her for striking this balance, which certainly isn’t easy to do.

2) Jillian wasn’t a push-over! Sometimes, yeah, reason went out the window as far as Max was concerned (come on, he has that effect), but when it came time to draw the line between someone else’s self-destruction and her own, Jillian didn’t hesitate to do so. So even though Max became frustrating at times, the progression of their relationship as a whole did not.

3) The change in the relationship dynamic between Jillian and her step-mom. It was natural and sincere and ultimately extremely heart-warming, and I loved how Jillian grew and changed in other relationships in addition to the central romantic relationship in the book.

4) Jillian’s comparisons of other characters to culinary delights. I just adored when these references popped up – they always brought a smile in how creative and on-point they were.

5) Max. Maaax. Did I mention I love brooding broken boys? Did I? This book has one and he’s goooood. Good enough to get his own top five fave spot. Cocky without being arrogant, flirty without being lecherous, needy without being pathetic, suffering without being destroyed. That’s how you do a brooding broken boy. Props to you, Katy!
Profile Image for Kaitlin Bartlett.
125 reviews10 followers
September 7, 2017
2016, I’m sure you’ll be a great year and all, but can’t we jump straight to 2017 so I can get my grabby hands on a physical copy of KISSING MAX HOLDEN? I was lucky enough to read this book when Katy posted it on SwoonReads, and I became instantly obsessed with Jillian and Max. The story has perfect pacing and delicious descriptions (many of which relate to Jillian’s love for baking), and the romance is spot-on. The mix of romance, family, and friendship strikes the perfect balance. Katy’s prose is fresh and free of clichés, and her characters feel one hundred percent real.

Do not miss this book, folks. I know I’ll be counting down the days until it’s released!
Profile Image for Melissa.
Author 2 books101 followers
December 20, 2016
When high school junior Jillian Eldridge shares an unexpected kiss with her long-time neighbor and friend Max Holden, she never expects it morph into something more. But when it does, and when attraction turns into genuine affection, Jillian is left to grapple with these unfamiliar, and deeply unexpected, feelings. A delightful, swoon-worthy debut! Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Mandie Baxter.
285 reviews34 followers
March 17, 2017
I read KMH when it was up on Swoon Reads and complete adored it. Katy is such a talented, beautiful writer.

Just finished an ARC of KMH and it was even better than I remembered. Can't wait to hold a finished copy!!!
Profile Image for Scrill.
408 reviews204 followers
July 8, 2017
ARC from Netgalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for a fair review


Kissing Max Holden was not your average boy-next-door trope. It is much more real, dramatic and heartbreaking. Jillian kisses Max, unfortunately, he's already got a girlfriend. Then what happens? Well, a LOT. There's kissing, crying, lying, betrayal, OH MAN, life freaking happens, and my heart hurts so hard from this book.

The Romance-Really, boy next door is usually fool proof for me. I will always read (and probably adore) boy next door stories. This one really takes it to the next level. I wouldn't say it's the HBO version because it stays pretty PG13, however, it's definitely not the charming story you find on the Hallmark channel either.

The Characters-I love that Max sort of was like this bad boy, but wasn't really. There were real reasons to why he was acting out and a friendship between Jillian and him that was grounds for their romance to take off. All the characters were incredibly endearing and added to the story.

I can't really say much more about the book without giving away spoilers. But let me just say, that there is a lot of hurt happening in this book. A lot of the time, I felt just as bad as Jillian knowing that she helped a guy cheat on his girlfriend. No one wants to be that other girl. My heart broke with hers throughout the book.

The only reason why I docked it a star was just because there was a lull I had to drag myself out of around 60-80% through the book. But it honestly wrapped up nicely. Excuse me while I go find all my family and friends and tell them I love them.
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews771 followers
August 2, 2017
Kissing Max Holden really took me by surprise, I went into the book expecting a light, cute, fluffy read, but I appreciated the depth and serious issues that Upperman dealt with. Jill and Max have been friends forever, although they’ve sort of drifted apart at school, they’d never imagined something more than their friendship until one night, they end up kissing. It comes completely out of the blue, as Max has a girlfriend and with everything being chaotic for Max at home, maybe it was just the comfort that he needed? But really what I loved most after was the turmoil of emotions that it left our characters in afterwards. Jill is constantly denying it that it’s just a onetime thing, but she really can’t get it out of her head or go back to the way things were between her and Max. It was obvious to me, that there was the potential for great things between Max and Jill if they ever decided to go down that route, but with so many obstacles in the way, was that even possible?

Both Max and Jill had a rough time over the course of this book, Max’s dad had a stroke, he was the light of the family, but now that he was restricted to a wheelchair, things weren’t the same as they used to be. On top of that there’s the conflicted feelings between him and Jill, Max also has a girlfriend, so shouldn’t it be best that they stay away from each other. I know Max wasn’t in the best of situations, with him kissing Jill whilst having a girlfriend, I don’t condone cheating at all, but with the way things were going with Max and his girlfriend I just wanted him to finally sort things out and be with who he wanted to really be with instead of going behind other people’s back and hurting a lot of people in the process. There was Max’s girlfriend, Max’s sister (who was his girlfriend's best friend) and even Jill’s dad to consider who didn’t want Jill to be anywhere near Max, which I could understand especially with the reputation he had. But with all the stuff going on, I was glad that Max and Jill were able to find solace with each other. If you thought Max’s situation was bad, I really felt for Jill as the story progressed, it completely changed my assumptions about how I felt regarding certain characters.

Kissing Max Holden really had a lot going for it, it had the boy next door forbidden romance vibe going on, one which I was fully rooting for, but the depth and number of issues that was tackled by Upperman was really done well too. I loved watching Jill and Max grow into wonderful characters over the course of the story and also the meaningful relationships that they developed along the way with people I didn’t expect. Also I was completely won over by Max by the end, he’d gone from this uptight guy who was hell bent on destroying his life, to someone who was sweet and wanted the very best for those he loved, I for one wouldn’t mind Max popping in through my bedroom window! ;) I’ve only read a handful of debuts this year, but Kissing Max Holden will definitely be one of the most memorable!
Profile Image for mith.
763 reviews264 followers
October 21, 2017
{you can read this review on my blog as well}

Do you know those books where you feel like you shouldn’t read but then the devil on your shoulders goes all, do it, punk or something? Because that was kind of what happened with this book. I knew this was something I shouldn’t pick up—the synopsis basically gave away the reason why! And yet. Here I am, writing my (late) review of the damn book.

Okay, I’ll be straight up: this entire fucking book starts off with cheating. And it does. Not. End. The entire goddamn plot is based off cheating. It doesn’t happen just once. Or twice. Or even three times! I am annoyed.

[screams] It’s one thing if it was pushed on by one side, even though I would never, ever condone it. But the thing is that the main character and the love interest both consented to kissing each other, multiple times. They both consented to it. Even though both of them were aware what they were doing, aware that one of them was in a relationship. I just? I didn’t understand it. I still don’t understand it.

The sad part is that, if it hadn’t been like that, this would have been a good book. Jill was a pretty decent character, though sometimes she did disappoint me with her girl-on-girl hate (which I’ll get to) and the slut-shaming comment she made in passing. She wasn’t perfect by any means, but she had a nice voice, one I liked reading for the most part. It showed that her character had depth.

Okay, what else is there… Ah, yes. Max Holden. The jackass himself.

Look, I hated the guy. He kissed Jill while he had a girlfriend. He continued kissing Jill while he had a girlfriend. He wanted to kiss her again, even though at one point, Jill said they need to stop, and he still had a fucking girlfriend. Things might not have been okay in the relationship, but it’s still a shitty thing to do. There’s no excuse for it. I don’t understand why he didn’t break up with her, or she with him. It was clear that neither of them were all that into each other? I mean, she flirted with other guys; he went around kissing his neighbour. Whatever bullshit reason he provided later on? Nope. I don’t buy it and I sure as hell wouldn’t accept it.

And this brings me to the girlfriend. Ugh. It was as if the author completely wanted Becky to be the Worst, almost like it would make everything that was happening okay. Spoiler: it didn’t. I hated that! I hate girl-on-girl hate, it is so unnecessary! So Becky was completely terrible and there’s like zero reason for it, as far as I know. Just put in a terrible character, why not, y’know?

And it’s not like Jillian wasn’t terrible either. I’m pretty sure she hated Becky just for dating Max instead of hating Max for the exact reason. I’m sorry, this is just extremely ridiculous. I won’t even begin to understand it.

Um. What else… Jill did have good friends, but they were only there when Jill needed to unload, so they weren’t even a real presence in the book, unfortunately. Not that they would’ve done any good, because not a single one said a thing about what she and Max were doing were wrong. OKAY, JAN.

Overall: I hate myself for reading this and I hate myself for liking some parts of it. Look, I just wanted a cute book with kissing, okay? Maybe some angst. And contemporaries have that and this was the first contemporary novel I picked up in a long while. It would have been a cute romance if they hadn’t cheated—I’ll admit, I sort of liked their relationship after the whole girlfriend situation was gone. But the road paved to get there? Good grief, not worth it.

Overall 2: I’m tired. 2 stars. Goodbye.
{post reading thoughts?? i guess?}
3.5 2 stars. (ETA: I just wrote my review and I am Not Happy).
Hoo hoo hoooo boy. Do you guys ever read and like a book you shouldn't? I think that's a guilty pleasure--oh dear god, this is definitely a guilty pleasure book. Because despite my obvious dislike of how this book started, I sort of enjoyed reading it. Hoo boy.

Full thoughts to come. There are plenty of thoughts.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,547 reviews234 followers
August 3, 2017
I simply loved this boy next-door romance.

Kissing Max Holden was one of my most anticipated reads for the second half of 2017, needless to say, I was ecstatic when Kiersten brought this one back from BEA. It was a wonderful boy next-door romance, that hit all the sweet spots for me.

These two had such a deep bond, which was cultivated through a decade of friendship. I always love when the MCs share a past, and Jillian and Max had such a wonderful and storied history. I really enjoyed those peeks Upperman gifted me of their past, because they helped me fully understand the depth of the hole left in both Jillian and Max's lives when they grew apart. It also helped me understand why they turned to each other as their lives were falling apart.

For all you out there who love a broken boy, Max totally fits the bill. In the beginning of the book, he was binge drinking and making many bad choices. Jillian and his friends were having a difficult time standing by and watching him as he fell deeper and deeper into his hole of despair, but I, along with Jillian, never lost hope. That was something Upperman did so well. There was so much going wrong in both Max and Jillian's lives, but there was always hope. There was always a bright spot, and the sun came out after the rain. I really appreciated that, because I need it in a story.

This story was built upon a lot of drama, but I really liked that most of the drama was outside of Max and Jillian's relationship. Yes, all these events affected the dynamic between Max and Jill, but it wasn't that typical, petty boy-girl drama.

There were a lot of broken relationships in this book, but the beautiful thing was that while some relationships were breaking, some were forming or becoming stronger. So, I got a little sad, but it was balanced out by me getting a little happy. Jillian in particular was forced to make some difficult choices, as she learned things she never wanted to know. My heart broke for her over and over again, and I was really proud of the choices she made.

Upperman gave Jill and Max a wonderful support system. They both had some really solid friends, who genuinely cared for them. Max's family may have been adjusting to his father's health issues, but they were still a rather cohesive group, who loved each other very much. Jillian did not have that same level of support from her father. In fact, he was a huge disappointment, but she grew to appreciate her step-mother and the Holden's continued to be her surrogate family when she needed them.

One piece of advice I must offer is to NOT read this on an empty stomach. Jillian was quite stressed out during this story, and her coping mechanism was baking. Upperman did not simply say, "She was baking." Oh, no. She describes smells, tastes, ingredients. I found my mouth watering quite a few times, and was sad that I could not climb into the book and share some snacks with them.

I enjoyed every page of this book. It was a wonderful story of family, love, and loss. A great romance, that warmed my heart, and left me with no doubt that I will be reading more of Katy Upperman's work.

**I would like to thank the awesome people at Swoon Reads for the advanced copy of this book.

Profile Image for Grace {Rebel Mommy Book Blog}.
475 reviews170 followers
November 30, 2018
I was expecting Kissing Max Holding to be a much fluffier read then it was. There was a lot of depth to characters and story beyond the romance. I really enjoyed all the parts of the story both light and heavy.
– The Boy Next Door Trope is one of my favorites and really worked for me.
– I liked Jill and Max and totally felt their chemistry.
– I didn’t love the mean girl antics that were involved but it still seemed like it could happen.
-There were lots of different family issues happening with both Max and Jill. I thought both sets of issues were handled well and really had me invested in both families.
-The ending was sweet
Definitely a contemporary YA I would recommend.
Profile Image for Sandra.
378 reviews16 followers
December 19, 2015
I read this story on SwoonReads and absolutely loved it.

When Katy announced she had sold her book I got incredibly happy for her. Not only is she a great person, she's also an insanely talented writer.

'Kissing Max Holden' was an electric, sweet, sexy and meaningful read. I loved everything about it: from the complexity of the characters, Katy's beautiful writing, Jill and Max's cutest, heart-stopping romance and the poignant drama permeating the whole story.

I can't wait to read more novels by Katy Upperman, she truly has a gift for storytelling, making me laugh, swoon and ship her characters like crazy, and I'm also dying to own a copy of this book and re-experience the wonderful story within its pages.

Mark your calendars, guys... You don't want to miss this book!

*Ps: SwoonReads used an excerpt from my mini-review/comment on their site, woop!*
Profile Image for Gillian.
457 reviews1,088 followers
September 20, 2017
First off--this book is about a girl named Jillian who stress bakes and had her first kiss with a boy named Max. My name is Gillian and I am a girl who stress bakes and my first kiss was with a boy named Max. SO. LIKE, KATY UPPERMAN, STOP HIDING IN MY BUSHES. Okay then. (Obviously, it was not hard for me to relate to Jill in any way.)

I really enjoyed that! I know this won't be everyone's cup of tea--the central ship involves a looot of cheating--but I read this book in like one sitting and was totally feeling the chemistry and the feels. I actually read this as an MS on the Swoon Reads site, and while I miss a couple of the things that got edited out, this is still a good read if you like this brand of contemp (BIG IF. Again, not for everyone. It's got no plot other than Jill's life, pretty much, so if you're not into Jillian and Mex and Jillian-and-Max, it won't work for you. BUT I WAS, SO)
Profile Image for Inge.
349 reviews894 followers
August 6, 2017
Kissing Max Holden is very slow and very sweet. I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for quite a bit, and while I did have some issues with it, it was still a cute and meaningful read.

Jill and Max’s friendship has never been easy. They fall in and out of love with each other faster than people change underwear, but the timing has never been right. So when the story starts out with a full-on make-out session between the two, it’s the perfect launch for a helluva lot of drama. Exhibit A: Max was kind of, sort of drunk when it happened. Exhibit B: Max kind of, sort of had a girlfriend at the time.

So I’ve never been a big fan of cheating stories. I mercilessly DNFed a book named Mercy, tore down a chicklit called Sleeping Arrangements, and I have a few thoughts on my mind about Étienne St Clair from Anna and the French Kiss, as well. It’s also really typical that the girlfriend is a bitch, because otherwise there’s no reason for us to root for Jill and Max. So yes, even though the girlfriend is supposed to be this terrible person, I found it hard to root for our protagonists.

They did have a lot of chemistry, though – the author definitely came through when she decided to put “Kissing” in the title. It is a kissing book, and the more heated scenes are good enough to shoot tingles down everyone’s spines. And when you have a less-than-ideal home situation on both sides of the equation, it is not hard to imagine that they would seek refuge in each other’s arms (and mouths).

I did appreciate the fact that Jill’s storyline parallelled with troubles in her own parents’ marriage, and how she was able to use that to evaluate her own actions as The Other Woman. I also enjoyed watching her relationship with her stepmother grow because of these issues. And though I often grew really weary of her on-again-off-again fling with Max – seriously, sometimes this book felt so much longer than 304 pages – it was good to see that things didn’t immediately become sunshine and rainbows, both as casual friends and as boyfriend and girlfriend. The hard topics are handled quite well.

One more thing I really loved was the fact that Jill had a passion for baking, and therefore described people like pastries. For instance, there was a character who was described as being like a crème brûlée – soft and sweet on the inside, but in order to get there, you have to crack a hard wall first. I thought those little nuggets were a really cute touch, and all the baking made Jill a softer and more caring character.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy
Profile Image for Tanya (Girl Plus Books).
1,028 reviews76 followers
August 7, 2017
Let me cut to the chase and say right up front: Kissing Max Holden is an amazing debut novel that checks all the boxes for what I want when it comes to contemporary YA. Realistic characters, dialogue that rings true, complex family relationships... and plenty of swoony moments with cute boys. Kissing Max Holden delivers all that and more.

Jill was a character I liked from the start. Things at home are tense, her father's and step-mother's arguments are escalating, going to New York for culinary school is suddenly in jeopardy, and when the boy next door climbed in her window it ends in an unexpected (but thrilling) make out session. With all this going on, Jill didn't collapse into dramatics or wallow in angst. Nope, not this girl's style. When faced with disappointment or trouble, Jill showed real maturity for her age, picked herself up, adjusted, and got on with it. When she was dealt a pretty tough blow that nixed her plan for the future, she didn't act like a sulky, petulant child (which, let's be honest, is likely how I would have reacted at seventeen). Instead, she started working out how else to make her dream happen. I admired her strength and tenacity. And when it came to Max, she was no pushover. She knew when to draw the line and say enough.(I totally want to be Jill when I grow up!)

What right does he have to be nonchalant? He was the one who came to my window. He was the one who initiated the kissing. He was the one who cheated on his girlfriend. Why am I stressing out?

Confession time: I wasn't sure how to feel about Max at first. Was he a jerk that I was supposed to like? Because honestly, those first few interactions left me on the fence about the swoony boy next door (well, technically he's the boy across the street but whatever). But I quickly warmed to Max and despite his behavior, despite his bad decisions... it was obvious he wasn't a bad guy. This was not a case of the bad boy with the heart of gold. He was not that guy. Max was a good guy who was struggling with changes in his own family - and having a really hard time accepting and adjusting. Upperman struck the perfect balance with Max: a troubled boy who was acting out but never so far gone that you questioned Jill's judgment or her feelings for him. I was completely charmed by Max, especially when he showed the side of him that was sweet and flirty and genuinely caring.

He looks at me with wide eyes, like he's been lost, wandering for ages and just stumbled upon the compass he didn't know he was missing.

I loved the evolution of Max and Jill's relationship. It wasn't easy. It was messy, filled with uncertainty and hurt feelings and missteps - and it felt completely real. Goodness knows there were obstacles: Max had a girlfriend, Jill's father ordered her to stay away from Max, Max continued to make poor choices at times. The push and pull of their relationship felt so genuine and I was completely invested as they sorted through it all and made their way to one another. And through the good times and the bad I loved every glimpse of Max's innate sweetness: the way he called Jill Jilly, the times he bought her giant-sized Cokes because he knew she loved fountain drinks best, the way he interacted with his nephew. I mean, come on, what girl wouldn't want to be Kissing Max Holden?

Max Holden is kissing me like it means something. Like he wants to keep kissing me, forever.

The family relationships and situations were another aspect that was done so well. Upperman's exploration of Jill's relationship with her father and her step-mother was thoughtful and emotional and always rang true. The relationships evolved, sometimes in surprising ways, over the course of the story What I appreciated most? That not every problem and every issue was tied up with a neat little bow at the end. It lent even more authenticity.

Upperman's writing pulled me in from the start and there were so many times that I had to stop and read a particular line or passage several times, and just smile at its simplicity and perfection ("Things were easy back then; we goofed around to a soundtrack of endless laughter.") The dialogue was spot on, the humor so effortless and the culinary turns of phrase as a nod to Jill's love of baking all worked seamlessly together to create a delectable concoction. All I can say is, I can't wait to see what Katy Upperman serves up next!
Profile Image for Maggie.
Author 2 books223 followers
May 24, 2017
Because baking was on my brain the entire time I read this book, I'm going to sum it up in one word: delicious! Katy Upperman weaves in brilliant breaths of air into her prose that swept me up into Jilly and Max's world. I stayed up way past my bed time telling myself "you can read just one more chapter"... for many chapters. Yes, there are a lot of sizzling smooches, it's called Kissing Max Holden for a reason, but there is a ton of heart at its core. Kissing Max Holden is about family and the different kinds of love that forms after different tragedies or miracles come to light. Jilly and Max have curled up into a very sweet spot in my heart. I can't wait to read more books from Katy!
Profile Image for Katie Harder-schauer.
811 reviews50 followers
August 18, 2017
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Swoon Reads, through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm going to start this review by saying that I enjoy drama, at least watching it unfold. You offer me a ticket to a relationship train wreck, and I'm going to jump on board because it's entertaining. And that's what Kissing Max Holden was, a months long relationship train wreck. Reading this book was almost like watching a mini soap opera. Trying to figure out who was hooking up with whom definitely kept me flipping the pages (even after I got a friend to spill the beans).

I feel like most of the conflict in this story was due to a lack of communication. Like if Jillian would have just been up front with Max from the get go, she wouldn't have had anything to feel guilty about in the first place. But in true teenager fashion, she acted like she's the only person in the world to ever be in her particular situation, so clearly no one else could ever understand what she was going through. So that was annoying and I could have done without that aspect of the story, but I will admit that it was at least authentic.

Read the rest of my review on my blog. --> http://justanothergirlandherbooks.blo...
Profile Image for Siobhan Davis.
Author 105 books8,414 followers
August 2, 2017
Full of bad boy charm, hot swoony romance, family drama and life lessons, Kissing Max Holden is a superb debut from author Katy Upperman and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

The gorgeous cover and enticing blurb hooked me instantly and I was really looking forward to reading this book. Thankfully, it lived up to my expectations and more.

Jillian is a good girl with a dedicated focus on a bakery career, and she is on a countdown until she starts culinary school in New York. Max Holden is the boy next door and her one-time bestie. All that changed after his dad took a stroke and Max started going out with his girlfriend.

I loved how the book opened on the scene where Max climbed through her window, and that we got stuck into the meat of the story straight away. I was rooting for them from the get-go!

This book gave me so many feels, and it was heartwarming as much as it was heartwrenching.

Max is to die for, and my perfect kind of misunderstood, sexy, bad boy with a heart of gold. I wanted him to ditch that scheming girlfriend for Jillian so badly! All the stolen kisses and sneaky moments were diamond! Absolutely, loved them, and the romance scenes were perfectly written. They made my heart swoon, and I felt the intense connection between our couple.

I also loved how family and friendship played a big part in this story.

The writing was fantastic, the pacing was spot-on, and it was an addictive read that I had a hard time putting down.

I cannot wait to see what this author delivers next, and I really hope this book does well for her because it's a fab read.

Highly Recommended.

Actual 4.5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC of this book via Netgalley. I am voluntarily reviewing same.
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