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Once Upon a Crime Family #1

Hold Me Like a Breath

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Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

390 pages, Hardcover

First published May 19, 2015

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About the author

Tiffany Schmidt

15 books574 followers
Tiffany Schmidt is the author of acclaimed books for young readers, including the Bookish Boyfriends series, I'm Dreaming of a Wyatt Christmas, Once Upon a Crime Family duology and several others.

She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles.

You can find out more about her and her books at: TiffanySchmidt.com

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Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,753 followers
February 10, 2016
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

The first thing that struck me about this book was the title: HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH.

There are a lot of different ways you can hold someone, and I've heard innumerable similes in that regard, but never that one . . . "like a breath."

You hold your breath like it's yours, like it belongs to you, b/c it does. And whether you're holding your breath b/c you're underwater or b/c smelly things or for any other reason, you're fighting yourself, b/c your natural inclination is to breathe.

So for someone else to hold you like a breath . . . they would have to think that they own you, and they would have to stifle you, b/c as the breath that's being held . . . your greatest wish is to escape . . . to be free.

Unsurprisingly, the title is appropriate, and for more reasons than I expected.


I'm really not sure what to do with this book . . . It's been called YA fantasy and a retelling of a fairy tale, and if the author herself hadn't referred to it as such in her note at the end of the book, I'd have thought it was another marketing misfire: grasping at straws and tangential connections to make the book appealing to a broader demographic.

However, regardless of Schmidt's intent, only the flimsiest connections keep this story from being a standard YA contemporary romance, or maybe a romantic suspense. Even with the references to Once Upon a Mattress , which I've seen performed and very much enjoyed, it completely escaped me that HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH was supposed to be a retelling of The Princess and the Pea .

About two-thirds of the way in I finally caved and skimmed a few early reviews, one of which clued me in . . .

In hindsight, I can see it . . . a little bit . . . b/c Penny Landlow (our heroine) has an autoimmune disease, and at its nastiest, laying on a (dried or frozen) pea could literally leave a bruise. It also helps that as far as fairy tales go, THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA is pretty lame vague.


There's nothing fantastical about having an autoimmune disease, and the singular aspect in which this world diverges from reality has to do with illegal organ transplants and the mafia-style families that govern them (also not fantastical), and that, in my humble opinion does not a "fantasy" make.

In fact, there's almost an entire subgenre of contemporary romance that fixates on Bad Boy mafia men, and there are no more aspirations of being shelved as fantasy with them then there are in the love-me-I'm-famous (movie/rock star) category. At best I'd call this a modern retelling à la Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet . But that's not a fair comparison either, b/c Baz Luhrman's ROMEO + JULIET is the best modern retelling EVER.

And this . . . well, the story was fairly predictable. There was only one key plot point that I didn't guess in advance (but even there I half guessed it), and some of the betrayals felt a bit OTT, as did the almost horror movie vibe b/c Bad Guy won't die. I also like a bit less tragedy and a bit more hope in my YA reads . . .

There's a reason I don't read romances in which one of the characters is a ghost, and that reason is that a HEA is impossible. Plus it's just painful to watch. It's similarly painful to watch Penny b/c she's so damn breakable. Admittedly, this scenario is slightly different, b/c she's sick, not dead, and there was a definite hint of a cure if she's brave enough to risk it, but this being YA, it probably won't happen until the very last second of the very last book, so be prepared for that.

HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH by Tiffany Schmidt is less fairy tale retelling, more YA romance. If I had known that going into it, I probably would have enjoyed it more. That being said, taken as what it is, it's not bad. A sheltered heroine who is determined to stand on her own two feet and a frog-turned-prince kept me entertained, and unlike me, you can read it with more realistic expectations. Recommended if you enjoy YA romance and the "family" life.

Jessica Signature
509 reviews2,413 followers
April 17, 2015

*Ranting and swearing up ahead.

Things I now need after reading this book:
1.) a good brick wall to throw the book against,
2.) bleach for my brain,
3.) a punching bag for stress relief.

And now you're probably asking, This book couldn't be that horrible, right? I thought so too, my dear friends. And I was proven wrong. Let me try to get everything down for you:

1.) You're expecting some badass mafia business? Well, HA. You don't get it.

Penelope is dense as fuck. The girl has almost no knowledge about her family's business in the black market. Sure, she knows what they do, but she's been kept in the dark for FOREVER. It was stressful hearing her whine about how nobody tells her anything. Why would they if you're acting like a spoiled brat? And as Faye mentioned in her review, it felt like Penelope's sickness was used as a quick excuse not to get more in-depth with the family business.

2.) Think Penelope's a sweet, passionate girl? Think again.

Maybe to some people, Penelope is sweet and passionate. But like I mentioned earlier, most of the time she just acts like a whiny little girl, which is pretty stupid considering the fact that her family gives her everything she wants. This really bugged me because there are a handful of people who aren't privileged, and she isn't at all thankful.

Also, she's a hypocrite. See, of course people keep secrets. She and this certain character both lied to each other at one point, and she has the guts to get pissed off at this character when in fact her lie was just as--if not more--huge as this character's! Ugh.

3.) You're a romance lover? Sorry, this book will make you cringe.

Even just thinking about the romance in this book gives me a migraine. Yes, there is a love triangle. At first, we're led to believe that Penny will end up with guy #1 /this is me attempting to avoid spoilers/, but then meets guy #2 and falls head over fucking heels over him. She literally bumps into guy #2, and said guy becomes obsessed with her, and she with him. Hell, she DREAMED about him after their first (or was it second?) meeting. Girl, have some dignity.

4.) This is a crime family book, right? Where the heck is Penelope's sense of family?! /And Penny's an idiot part 2./

***minor spoilers*** Okay, like I said, Penelope hates feeling left out. But still, I was fucking surprised when she agreed with guy #1 to run away with him. LIKE WHAT THE SHIT, GIRL? ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY? You have a disease that makes you bruise and bleed easily, and you need blood transfusions every now and then. How the hell do you expect to live if you run away!? Do you really think that guy #1 can take care of you?! Good God, girl. Grow a brain, please.

Basically, this book was a pain in my rear.

I rest my case.
Profile Image for Dear Faye.
492 reviews2,125 followers
April 2, 2015

This is probably the first time in a long while since I've gotten this infuriated and angry and just fuming over a book. I chose to read this novel expecting great things (especially with such a title as romantic as that), but I ended up putting the book down at certain times and pacing around the room just to cool off the steam coming out of my ears. was that seething. 

(And I'm not the only one. I buddy read this with Aimee and we kept ranting about the book to each other.)

I don't even know where to start with this thing. It had so many factors that could have given us an amazing story - underground family-syndicates that deal with black market organ transplants, a heroine who has an autoimmune disorder, assigned guardians and protectors who are a part of the Family - but all of these were taken for granted and flushed down the drain by the book's seemingly unnecessary emphasis on the romance, which was the most rushed and cheesy and instalove-y romance that I've read yet.

First of all, let's talk about the heroine, Penelope Landlow. She is a descendant of a family that has done countless organ transplants for those who can afford it (read: illegal). She is very frail and everyone is very careful with her because she bruises and bleeds easily due to her autoimmune disorder, a condition where her body keeps destroying her platelets count. I wouldn't really have minded this tidbit and would normally have embraced it, but it felt like her condition was more of a cop-out in order not to explore the syndicate aspect of this book. Since we see the events unfold in her perspective, we keep getting brushed off whenever it comes to the business and ongoings in said family business, because such were"not good/right for her" or that "she shouldn't bother herself with it". The only time she was actually in a meeting that discussed the business, the heroine was fucking spacing out. When she came back to reality, the meeting was finished. FINISHED.

What the fuck???

Here I am, not already getting enough info about the politics and internal affairs of this goddamn business, and the remote chance that we do, the heroine conveniently spaces out. She's already isolated from everything as it is! This goes on until the rest of the novel... where it consequently becomes a hundred pages of cheesy dialogue and feewings between the girl and a guy who she falls in love with at first sight... I mean, he saves her from falling in the streets and she later dreams about kissing him... take note: at this point, they still haven't conversed with each other decently (at least not a conversation with her thinking straight), and they do not know each other's names. So consider me flabbergasted when she later talks about how she dreamt about him while unconscious! (and I'm here, wondering, how the hell would someone know that if they were bloody unconscious?!).

I mean, get this: she later wakes up and finds this guy followed her to her apartment, and instead of, I don't know, panicking that her location got found out so easily (since her life is in danger), she tells him this:
"And I thought rock-hard jaw lines only existed in romance novels."

DO YOU SEE NOW WHY I HAD TO TAKE BREAKS WHILE READING THIS BOOK?! IT WAS FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP GOING AND NOT WANT TO STAB SOMETHING.  I was actually scolded by my mother for continuously walking around the room muttering incoherent curses, but I assure you, I had to put the negative energy somewhere or else I was going to explode. The heroine and her lack of self-preservation just made me want to bang my hand on a granite wall.

And this continues for a loooong, looong time. A repetition of her going out with the dude, of them saying sweet nothings to each other, of them going to places and acting like an old married couple despite the fact they know zilch about each other, despite the fact they've only met a few days prior. I had to resort to skimming because it wasn't just annoying, it was also so cheesy. I mean, she gets told she's "the best thing in the whole city" and she thinks he's the one "keeping her alive". Take bloody note: they only met a few days ago.

And it really annoyed me how she made everything about her. Her brother is having a life? She doesn't get happy and instead gets angry at him for "getting ahead of her". She is hesitant to share about her life, and she notices this certain guy is hesitant to tell her about his life, and she has the bloody gall to feel offended at this. She lies about herself and someone else lies about themselves, and she jumps the gun and accuses him of being a liar. WHAT THE FUCK. JUST WHAT THE BLOODY HELL.

God, don't ask me how I lasted this long. I don't even know.

I did like the ending, though. The ending was promising. The ending made me see a Penelope that was more mature and more determined. However, even if this is so, that doesn't invalidate the fact that reading this book was like watching Teletubbies on TV: unbearable and just so horribly painful.��Hopefully you guys will like this more than I did, and if you did, don't forget to tell me what you liked so I can go back and reminsce if I may have liked it somewhat, too. At this point, the negatives are just so glaringly obvious.
Profile Image for Jess.
470 reviews598 followers
May 20, 2015
Don't hold your breath for this one. Review To Come.

I can be a tad more eloquent than this. Let me quickly break this down:

+ Cliches
+ Overwhelming, horrendously instantaneous romance
+ No blood, no politics, where's my nitty gritty crime lords/mafia story?
+ We could have had a great study into ethics and morals concerning blood money and being an illegal "angel" (especially with the organ donation business). Terrible pity that we get nothing at all but a love story I could barely care about.

Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
July 3, 2016
Hold Me Like A Breath is a difficult read. Despite the poor reviews and multiple cautions, even having lowered my expectations, I was mildly entertained. Hold Me Like A Breath promises an enthralling read and delivered little more than a thinly veiled mystery and instant romance.

Penelope suffers from a rare autoimmune disease known as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, where her body destroys its own Platelets. She is kept within the secure estate due to the nature of her condition and is never to be touched. But lately she's been restless and although her health fluctuates, she dreams of a life outside of the estate which she now sees as a compound. Although I couldn't connect to Penelope as a character, I understood her frustration at those around her being overly protective and the freedom she longs to experience. But it's how she's perceived on an intellectual level in which I took issue. Physically she's unwell, but she's an intelligent girl who is simply brushed aside when she attempts to ask questions, wanting to understand what the family business entails. It doesn't aid her that she's referred to as Princess.

The storyline doesn't delve into the family business beyond Penelope's understanding, with the focus is placed upon the attraction between she and her brother's best friend Garrett. They share a flirtatious friendship, stolen moments of almost kisses and it's then when Penelope's brother discovers their connection. But before they can explore the new boundaries of their tentative relationship, Penelope is forced to flee the compound for New York City, with her life barely intact.

This is where the storyline took an unexpected and unwelcomed twist. Up until that moment, I was enjoying the storyline for the most part and had expected Penelope to develop self confidence and begin to be treated as an equal. But as she explored the city, she meets Charlie who is also seeing the city as a tourist. Charlie is secretive, but latches onto Penelope to the point of waiting outside of her apartment for a glimpse of the girl he's already falling in love with.


The romance was terrible, not to mention predictable. While pining away for Garrett, she's falling in love with Charlie despite having only known him for days. As a reader, I found it painfully obvious what Charlie was hiding and although she had lead a very sheltered life, Penelope seemed to have forgotten her family and spent her time making the most of her time in the city.


Indeed. That's when the storyline had lost my attention. For a girl so frail she wasn't allowed to leave her estate, her health is failing and yet she strangely has time for a whirlwind romance. She barely gave a second thought to her family. Although Penelope has very little experience with affairs of the heart, being able to trust Charlie so easily was dubious at best considering her family's illegal business. The romance was a deal breaker. It was obvious, predictable and lacked chemistry or any genuine connection between Charlie and Penelope.

Writing a less than positive review gives me no joy, because as many issues as I had with Hold Me Like A Breath, the writing wasn't one of them. I found the overall storyline engaging with an incredible amount of promise, but I just couldn't move beyond the romance. I felt cheated out of what could have been an epic read from a genre in young adult that seems lacking.
Profile Image for A.C. Gaughen.
Author 7 books1,845 followers
February 4, 2015
Just finished the ARC of this book, and IT WAS SO AWESOME. Penelope is this rare character that never feels cliched and grows dramatically--but believably--over the course of the book. And BOYS AND LOVE BUT I CANT SAY ANY MORE BECAUSE SPOILERS--but suffice to say, as ever, Tiffany's romantic plots are the kind you read, flip back, read again, write down quotes....and siiiigh.

But the thing I really can't get over is the detail, originality and total saturation of the crime family element. It's so COOL and a little MACABRE and totally believable--and also, for being so twisted in one sense, super complicated and emotional.

Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews842 followers
April 29, 2015
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt
Book One of the Once Upon a Crime Family series
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

What I Liked:

This book and had a strange encounter. I'm not quite sure if I really liked it or if I was simply reading something that I didn't want to stop reading, but really, I was feeling a bit meh towards the book. I had serious issues with the protagonist, and I feel like the book didn't live up to its full potential, but I think I enjoyed reading it as I was going (for the most part). I'm intrigued and I want to keep reading books in the series. It would be interesting to see the next books from another point-of-view, and not a continuation of Penelope's story (I'm a bit sick of Penelope). How about Garrett! Anyway.

Penelope is the daughter of Malcolm Landlow, who is a mafia boss, one of three crime lords that controls the organ transplant black market. Penelope's older brother is set to take over the Family business when their father is ready to give it to him, and Garrett Ward will be Carter's second, his right-hand man. Penelope has always wanted to feel free like Carter and Garrett - she has a rare autoimmune disease in which even the smallest touch will bruise her badly or cause her to start bleeding. When an unpredictable event happens and Penelope is stranded, she is forced to learn what life is like on her own, with no protection from the outside world. Soon, she's caught up in the Family business for real, and there is no turning back.

The first half of the book was pretty okay. The second half was fine too (ish), but there were very different. The Unpredictable Event is what divides the two halves. The Unpredictable Event is quite unpredictable, and I could not have seen that coming (neither part one nor part two). I kept waiting for Schmidt to be like, just kidding! Everything's fine! It was a hoax! Or something. So that was really dramatic and heartbreaking, and I applaud Schmidt for creating such an immense and story-shaking event, and sticking to it.

I'll get to Penelope in the next part. I didn't like her very much. Her love interest was just that - a love interest. The romance was all over the place, so I didn't like that. I will say that I thought the story was interesting and I was never in danger of getting terribly bored or wanting to put the book down. I had hoped for more crime-related activity, but I was disappointed. I think I'll read the next book(s) if they deal with primary characters other than Penelope. Like, Garrett, Carter's second. He's an intriguing guy, and the ending is definitely open enough for a story all to him.

What I Did Not Like:

Ugh, a good number of things didn't work for me. I'm not sure why I'm giving this one three stars. Maybe I'm feeling optimistic. In any case, I didn't like Penelope, I struggled with the romance, and I was disappointed by the lack of crime-mafia-mob-craziness!

My biggest problem with this book was Penelope. Yes, she has an autoimmune disease that basically has her sheltered, far away from everyone. Her family (and Family) basically treat her like she's fragile (which she is), and doesn't let her out of their compound/grounds. She has to beg her brother to let her go into New York City, or Garrett. Penelope knows little to nothing about the Family and its the current happenings of the business.

The thing is, we're supposed to feel sorry for her (I assume), but that girl really got on my nerves. She does a lot of whining, a lot of complaining, a lot of temper-tantrum-throwing. I let it go in the first couple of chapters, because she has the condition, but then it just got annoying. Condition or not, there's no excuse for being a stuck-up, annoying brat. She's constantly begging her brother to tell her what is going on in the Family, yet she makes no attempt to sit in at meetings and find out herself. All she cares about is going out in New York City, or going to school for senior year (out in the public, instead of having a tutor). Reasonable for someone who has lived her whole life in seclusion, but at the same time, you do have that condition... it's pretty serious too.

I didn't feel like Penelope grew very much as the story went on, which is a shame. I was so ready to see her do something other than moan about how useless everyone thought she was. When The Unpredictable Event happens, Penelope is left to fend for herself in New York City. She literally sits on her butt for days, does nothing to try and help her family (or Family), or at least figure out what's going on. Her whole life, she didn't want to lie low, and now that is exactly what she is doing.

Then there is the romance. In the first half of the book, we have Penelope and Garrett. I really like them together, they're sweet. They were never really TOGETHER, but Penelope had a crush on Garrett for years. Garrett cares about Penelope in ways other than as a friend. Then The Unpredictable Event occurred, and Penelope and Garrett are separated. Enter Love Interest #2, whom Penelope really, really falls for, making what was between her and Garrett seem like sibling affection. I didn't like this. I get that there was one guy at one point in her life, and a different guy at a different point, but I was annoyed that there had to be two love interests at all.

And the second romance was so insta-love-y! Penelope bumps into Love Interest #2, and it's love at first sight. Or fascination at first sight. For both of them. Just like that. Call me cynical, but it seemed too sudden and abrupt for me. I didn't like that transition at all.

The ending is satisfying in terms of Penelope's story (sort of), but there is room for more. I really hope the next book isn't about Penelope, because I'm so over her whiny attitude. Talk about zero character development (in my opinion). The next book should feature Garrett!

And the last thing I will just briefly mention - I expected more crime! More creepy mafia encounters! More underground illegal shenanigans! The lack of the crime aspect was disappointing, because this book was hailed as a great crime novel, right? Or something.

Would I Recommend It:

Ehhh. It wasn't a good crime novel, the romance wasn't that great, and the protagonist as annoying... so probably not. Overall, it's not a bad book, but you really have to overlook some things. Like Penelope's attitude towards everything.


2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars. I think I'm being generous. I'm looking at the ending of this book optimistically - if the next book is about Garrett (or someone else other than Penelope), then I'm in!
Profile Image for The Book Jar Blog.
76 reviews4 followers
May 12, 2015
Read more of our reviews at: www.thebookjarblog.wordpress.com

Penelope Landlow has had a sheltered life. Living with a disease that leaves her weak and fragile, she has been sheltered and protected her whole life. Her family is in the organ transplant business, the illegal black market transplant business. When something goes wrong and she’s the only family member left, Penelope has to fend for herself, something she has never experienced before. She’s on the run and constantly looking over her shoulder, fearful the people who killed her family will catch up with her.

This is a fast paced wonderful first book of the series, the writing is absolutely riveting. Penelope’s autoimmune disorder makes her constantly sheltered and she’s never really experienced life. It was intriguing to read about her autoimmune disorder and how deadly it can be. I was constantly afraid she would relapse while she was on the run. I thought it was an intriguing story that kept me up all night until I finished. Schmidt does a really good job at showing the struggle and difficulties of Penelope’s disorder. I can’t wait for the sequel – it’s definitely a great summer read. 5/5
Profile Image for Tiff.
581 reviews537 followers
May 23, 2015
This is one of those books where you’re either going to love it or say “meh” to it – and unfortunately, it was the latter for me. Here’s the breakdown:

What I Liked:

The Concept: When I first heard the concept of Hold Me Like A Breath, I was totally in – mob family, organ transplants, and a girl who bruises so easily that she has to be kept inside at all times? Amazing. Tiffany Schmidt manages to blend all of these things together in an understandable way.

The Fairy Tale Allusions: If you’re a fan of fairy tales, Tiffany Schmidt has put in a ton of references, especially allusions to The Princess and the Pea (Penny and her brother purport to go see Once upon a Mattress, a musical version of that musical). Penny herself is a huge fairy tale fan, so it’s cute how she pokes fun at some of the tropes.

What I Didn’t Like:

Characters I Couldn't Connect With: Somehow I just never really connected with Penny, and I think this was in large part because Penny, as the fragile girl in the family, never got included in any of the Family’s doings. That outsider status made me feel like I only got glimpses at what was happening, so when things start going south in the novel, I just didn’t care about her or what was happening with her family. Penny has a good arc throughout the entire book, but I just…wasn’t invested. I think that had a lot to do with the next two issues I had with the book.

Major Insta-Love: Halfway through the book, a big, big thing happens to Penny, and it was like the book took a whole new turn. It was like reading a new book – and that book was chock-full of insta-love. I didn’t believe in the romance at all. And unfortunately, that relationship happened to be the linchpin of the entire back half of the novel.

Not Enough Theme: Hold Me Like a Breath started off pretty well, with a strong explanation of the Organ Act and some of the issues about legal and illegal organ transplants; as well as a good explanation of Penny’s disease. The problem was, I never felt like I got below the surface. Even though the concept (see above) of the book was there, the attempt to mix so many threads didn’t quite work – it felt like the narrative jumped from thread to thread in a clunky way, leaving me frustrated and not very connected to the story. I think more emphasis on the different families and transplant methods would have helped a lot.

Book Theme Song:

It Takes Two from Into the Woods
Penny’s dad is a huge musical fan, and even though the book mentions Once Upon a Mattress, I thought this song about how people change in a different environment fit both the themes of the book, and my own experience with it.

The Final Word:

Hold Me Like A Breath was just an okay read for me – I had major issues connecting with the characters and themes, and I really wished there had been more done to deepen my understanding of Penny’s disease and issues with organ transplants. An interesting, if flawed, fairy-tale retelling.
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews547 followers
April 1, 2015
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Amazing, intense story that you won’t want to put down. With its unique idea, intriguing plot, and wonderful characters this is sure to be a hit with all young adult fans! Also, this book has one of my favorite covers ever — it is so pretty!

Opening Sentence: Once upon a time— nine years ago, to be exact— I didn’t know anything about the Family Business.

The Review:

Penelope Landlow has grown up in a very privileged environment. Her family is extremely wealthy, but they don’t get their money legally. They sell human organs to those that need them and can afford to pay for them. Rest assured they are actually good people and they do it more to help people then for the money, but it is still illegal. But even all the money in the world can’t cure the autoimmune disease that Penelope has. It causes her blood palettes to run way lower than they should and therefore she bruises very easily. Her disease can be very dangerous, so she is basically homebound at all times.

Penelope would love to be a normal girl, but that’s just not in her cards. Sure she loves her family and she knows that they would do anything to protect her but she wants more out of life then just being a princess stuck in a mansion. What Penelope doesn’t know is that she is about to get her wish of freedom, but what will be the price?

Penelope is such an inspirational character. She has a terrible disease that makes it so she bruises very easily and her blood has a hard time clotting. It’s scary and at any time it could become very deadly. But Penelope has such a positive outlook on life that you would never know she is so ill. Yes, she is cautious and she should be, but at the same time she likes to be spontaneous. Sure she fantasies about living a normal teenage life, but she is also happy with the life she has. She is determined to not let her disease be who she is, and I really respected that about her. She was a very easy character to connect with and with everything she goes through I couldn’t help but respect her. I loved reading her story and I am so happy that there will be more books to come.

There are two love interests in the story, but the romances felt very separate from each other so while reading the story it didn’t really feel like a love triangle to me. I do think that in the future books there is a possibility that the love triangle could become more forefront, but it wasn’t in this one.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with Garrett. He is loyal, kind, and fiercely protective of Penelope. His family has protected the Landlow family for years so it’s no surprise that is what he wants to do as well. His best friend growing up was Carter Landlow and they are more like brothers then friends. His relationship with Penelope has been strictly friendly all these years, but they have an undeniable chemistry. I loved watching them flirt and I thought they were so cute together. Garrett is far from perfect, but if I had to choose a team I would chose him!

Char comes along quite a bit later in the story and while I did really like him, I didn’t quite fall for him as much as I did for Garrett. Char is ridiculously smart and a total nerd, which was really cute. He is awkward and unsure of himself when it comes to Penelope, but that added to his overall charm. The relationship between him and Penelope was cute. It just felt a little rushed to me. Unfortunately, it had a insta-love feel to it and I didn’t love that, but I do think that things could be much different in the next book. I adore Char, I just don’t know if I would pick him for Penelope.

Hold Me Like a Breath is a beautifully heart pounding story that is almost impossible to put down. The idea is very unique and different from anything else I have ever read, so that was a huge plus. The pacing was spot on and the plot took me places I was never expecting to go. There is a mystery in the story that I did figure out, but it wasn’t obvious or overdone in anyway. There was just enough foreshadowing that made it so you didn’t feel lost or confused as to what was going on. The characters were all developed perfectly and I loved how three dimensional they all felt. While reading the story I could easily imagine myself in the moment with all the characters and I really loved that. Schmidt’s writing is beautiful and easy to get lost in. This is the first book I have read by her, but rest assured I now want to go back and read everything else she has written. The ending of this book wrapped up things pretty well, so I am really curious to see where things go in the sequel. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a unique young adult contemporary novel.

Notable Scene:

“I believe you swept me off my feet, actually.”

“Semantics.” He smiled. “I know I’m going to fall in love a million times in my life.” I was too surprised to form the word “what?” or remember how to exhale. “Maybe more than a million . . . but it will always be with you.”

FTC Advisory: Bloomsbury Children provided me with a copy of Hold Me Like a Breath. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,189 reviews1,020 followers
December 28, 2015
This review was originally posted on It Starts at Midnight
Dear Hold Me Like a Breath,
What a tumultuous relationship we've had. First I didn't like you. I was confused between all the Family (Big F) versus family (little f), and then you throw a random romance my way before I even had a chance to decide if I cared. But then you began to win me over. I started genuinely liking you, I did. I mean, black market organ donations? Yes please! Weird illness that leaves Penny unable to function as a normal young woman? Consider me intrigued!

I read along thinking that this was going to be one hell of a ride. And for awhile, you didn't disappoint me! The twists were totally shocking, and I was SO into it. We were talking about the ethics of organ donation, and the importance of it, and a weird criminal business, and Penny wanting a more active role/live, and things were happening! And then after the second, most ginormous twist... you failed meezgif-2151608276

You turned into a sappy, wholly unbelievable romance (complete with insta-love™ and a bit of a triangle to boot), and the worst part is, I can't even fully talk about all the things that happen in it because it would be spoilers. It's like you cheated on me, then swore me to secrecy, and I am not okay.  I knew where the romance was going with Guy #2. I knew who he was from the start, your attempt at trickery did not fool me. And what happened to all the feels for Guy #1!? Where are they!?

I know you thought I would be okay with this romantic plot point, but it didn't work on so many levels. For one, if someone lives in a crime family, they are not likely to trust any  random dude they (literally) run into on the street. This is actually what you wanted my mind to believe. For her entire existence, Penny is told to trust no one outside the family (or Family, because hell, I can't keep track) and then she does exactly the complete opposite. And if a girl is dealing with things like "rivals" and "black market" and "casualties" (which, let the record show, are things in your actual synopsis), she's not going to really feel like macking on randos from the street. Furthermore, if she must be entertaining gentlemen callers, can we at least have them had a modicum of chemistry and/or feelings? Because not only did I think it was ridiculous in the first place, but I never even started to care because it was quite bland anyway. Not only that, the romance minimized every twist that had happened thus far. Huge things are happening in Penny's life and with her health and then... no matter, romance to the rescue!

I know you think you redeemed yourself a little by the ending, but... meh. I am not convinced. Frankly, I saw the twists coming, and therefore the ending, while much better than the maudlin and befuddling romance that dominated half the book, didn't hold a ton of weight. So, it is with great sadness that I must reject your meager attempt at reconciliation. I hope your next reader has far more success. And in case it wasn't clear....


Regretfully yours,
Profile Image for Mandy K.
469 reviews31 followers
May 6, 2015
Full Review

This book left me feeling so-so. I thought the idea was interesting, a sickly girl that was the daughter of one of the Families that dealt with black market organ transplants. I accepted pretty early on that there wasn't going to be much dark gritty crime family-ness to this book. Even though Penelope as a member of a crime family, she's almost completely oblivious to everything that entails. Besides a few casual mentions of FBI raids and cops on the payroll, we don't see any of the wheelings and dealings or any of the everyday danger that should be included. It seems as if sitting in a room and debating for hours is all that the Family really does. So I accepted that it was more a setting that a pivotal point of the story. And then crazy event #1 happened, and I thought maybe this is some action here. And then a bunch of aftermath and watching tv and swimming and blood work and I let my guard down again. And then crazy event #2 happened, and everything changed. I really have to hand it to Tiffany Schmidt, I really did not see either of those two events coming. Especially the second event.

Sadly, after that, the next major part of the book was annoying. Penelope sits on her butt and wallows for about 15% of the book, and then she collides into a guy on the street and is instantly in love. I'm not kidding, they ram into each other, he gets her a cab home, and she dreams about him that night and is insta-love with him. And then he quite literally stalks her and waits outside of her apartment every day until she finally leaves. He even admits to how creepy it is and she doesn't care because shes so in love. And then we spend about 1/3 of the book frolicing around NYC with lover boy. The only reminder that your even reading the same book is the occasional mention of bruises or of crazy event #1 and #2. And then some shocking and shocking at all secrets are revealed and then one more event and its over. IF you took out all the sitting around from the first part, and all the frolicing from the second part, the book would be about 1/4 as long. It was so far from what I was expecting when I picked up the book, it wasn't bad, but I just wasn't expecting a "girl falling in love in NYC" story, I was expecting a crime family story.

Maybe I should stop reading stories with sickly MC because I tend to not like their characters. Penelope was incredibly naive, spoiled, and immature. She constantly complained about to being allowed to know anything Family related, but she never showed an interest in actually knowing, and every time she did know something she would react in a way that just proved she was too immature to be involved. She wanted to know just because she wanted to be told things. She was also childish, any time something happened, she would blame people and be angry at them, even if they couldn't help what happened.I liked most of the side characters enough to sort of make up for not liking penelope.

I didn't hate it, in fact I finished it in 2 sittings, but I didn't like the main character, the insta-love was some of the most severe I've read yet, and there was also a love triangle. There was so much more potential here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
April 3, 2015
I tore through this retelling of The Princess and The Pea (with organ trafficking) at breakneck speed. At heart, it's a story about a girl declaring her agency; after living in a bubble, with people too eager to keep her protected, she breaks out. And that breaking out comes with consequences, but it's through meeting those consequences she discovers her voice -- and her own power.

Now more Magnolia, please!
Profile Image for Larissa.
264 reviews42 followers
March 28, 2015
See this review at YA Midnight Reads

More like 2.5 stars on this one.

I have rather mixed feelings on this one. There are parts of this story which I enjoyed, and others not so much. Initially it was the premise that drew me into this one. A fairytale retelling of the Princess and The Pea? Crime family politics, in the business of black market organ transplants? It seemed like the perfect mixture, my two favorite sub-genres in YA (fairytale retellings and crime novels) coming together. However, the execution of the aforementioned left a little bit to be desired and frankly I’m disappointed.

I found the fairytale retelling part of the plot to be strong, with subtle nods to the original The Princess and The Pea (and Rapunzel too) while also twisting it and developing it so we got to see more of the “princess’s” side of the story. I really enjoyed the references included and found that the retelling was done in an ingenious sort of way. For example, in the original story the Princess bruises easily. In Hold Me Like A Breath, our “princess” Penny has Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (an autoimmune disease that causes extreme easy bruising) which not only connects to the fairytale but also managed to educate me on something I didn’t even know existed. In that way it spread awareness about ITP and I can tell the author really did her research.

My issues lied in the crime part of the novel. I felt it was because of how sheltered Penny was from the crime ring led to us readers being in the dark about the inner-workings and politics of it. These are the things that I was most interested going into that novel and in the aspect I found myself disappointed. I felt as while we were told the impact/influence the crime family had (and certainly showed the power, there’s no shortage of character deaths in this one), but never really to the levels of political intricacy I felt possible. I feel like there was lost potential with how in depth Schmidt could have gone with the dark nature of the black market organ transplant families.

I’ve talked about the “princess” a couple times in this review. That “princess” is Penny, the main character. She was an very interesting sort of main character. I can definitely see how a lot of people wouldn’t like her. At first Penny reads as naive, sheltered, overly innocent, prone to making stupid choices and frankly an juvenile child. And you know what? Up the beginning of many tragic events to come, I’d say she is one hundred percent all of these things. In fact, it was her initial personality (annoying, but understandable given her autoimmune disease and treatment of her family) that was my reason for me not feeling any connection for the first 5 chapters of the story. At that point I was even considering DNF’ing, just because I found the story to be going quite slow and Penny was driving me a little crazy.

However, once that first tragic scene happened- damn. I got invested in the story fast, and I think it says something that for the first 5 chapters I was slogging through and suddenly I felt like crying. It was after this event (and several more) where you slowly see Penny go through some brilliant development and really grows into a strong character, despite her and disease and all of the tragedies she’s suffered. I loved her growth so much, and came to appreciate her character by the end of the novel. Penny’s certainly not strong in the traditional YA sense of “badass”, but oh my god. By the end of the novel I wanted to give her a standing ovation for her emotional strength. I think these quotes (spoken by Penny) really showcase what I’m trying to put into words:

“You don’t get to decide if something is too dangerous for me. That’s never your decision; it’s mine.”


“You don’t get to choose to keep me on the sidelines. I’m not saying I want to go rushing into dangerous situations, but trust me enough to make my own decisions.”

Moving on from Penny, my biggest issue in Hold Me Like a Breath one was the romance. I had a lot of issues with the romance, which is problematic because this one focuses extensively on romance (unfortunately in my view). It’s gonna be really hard for me to talk about this without using spoilers, so I’m going to go about it very generally and then put the more detailed information in spoilers. Speaking generally, I felt myself having no emotional connections to either (yes, there’s two. But don’t worry about a love triangle because one love interest gets suddenly forgotten about in favor of the other) love interests nor the romance they had with Penny. One ran too hot & cold, leaving me honestly feeling confused- even at the end of the story. Meanwhile, the other romance felt too rushed for my liking and convenient.

Overall I unfortunately am torn about Hold Me Like a Breath. I loved the fairytale aspects and strong character development of the main character. I had issues with the romance, initial pacing/direction of the story and unmet potential in regards to the crime ring.

Profile Image for Susana.
988 reviews247 followers
May 18, 2015
DNf at 28 %

Arc provided by Bloomsbury USA Children's books

Release Date: May 19th

TW's: for those who are squeamish about ongoing talks about blood
(like myself -_-)

Sorry, but as you can see I just couldn't turn click another page.

In the twenty eight percent that I read of this, there was nothing that would compel me to keep on reading it.
Sure, at the beginning I felt sorry for the girl. Okay, I still do. Having to live with such a medical condition would be hell _ Thrombocytopenia_, but I do not want to read a full book on the subject!
And so far, all I am getting is "low platelets accounts" "blood tests" "poor me".
And of course syringes. -_-

And no, Penelope's medical condition shouldn't be used as an excuse for the fact that she sounds like a spoiled eight year old. Just on the contrary.
She's used to living with it, therefore some backbone was to be expected.

Sorry, but nothing in it is working for me.
Profile Image for Whitley Birks.
294 reviews355 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
June 11, 2015
Quit after about 50 pages, after an entire extended outing that consisted of "what's going on?" "we can't tell you." "tell meeee!" "Okay, well...erm, no, we can't tell you." "what is it?" "maybe we'll tell you later."

And I've read that sort of thing before (and been annoyed by it before) but this time, somehow, it was tense enough to actually make me physically stressed out? So, sorry, this could be the best book of the year (and, really, it sounds pretty interesting) but I can't read books that add to my stress level.
Profile Image for Gabi.
228 reviews47 followers
April 26, 2015






Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 18 books1,659 followers
October 22, 2014
I read an early draft of this and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Penny's arc is incredible.

I will save more detailed gushing for later.
Profile Image for mith.
758 reviews265 followers
July 11, 2015
Even gracing it with with 2 stars (well 1.5, tbh) is a kindness on my part.
1.25 of that is only for Carter . The other .25 was because I am a nice person.
God this was such an idiot-pathetic book.
Profile Image for Elevetha .
1,809 reviews165 followers
August 25, 2015

Well, that was disappointing.

First off, this cover is breathtaking. I mean, truly beautiful, though what it has to do with the book, I have no idea. The title is also eye-catching and what a play on words! That, thankfully, does fit the book exceedingly well.

All right, let's get down to business. This sounded like it would be incredible. I tried to prevent myself from getting overly excited for it, which ended up just as well, since it was a total dud.

The idea behind this story and the general plot is really quite something. The Organ Trade, a big old crime family, and a girl who can bruise from a touch. Add to that a logical retelling of the Princess and the Pea. I mean, the potential. Alas, it lived up to none of it and ended up being mediocre, at best.


Among other things, Penny's whole family is murdered; she's on the run, fighting for her life; attempting to discover who murdered her family; trying to prevent those same people from trying over the Family business; AND trying to keep herself safe not only from the people chasing her down, but also her disease. Sounds busy and suspenseful, right? Nope. Because even among all this, Penny somehow finds time to fall head over heels in love with Char, and cutely flirt/date him for half the book after her parents and brother are murdered. And Char is also the heir of another Family, which I had so been hoping to avoid. Also, there's a bunch of shit about Garrett, Penny's long-time crush, short-time boyfriend, whom she moves on from instantly after seeing Char. (More on this under "Romance".) But the Family/Organ business eventually comes back into play, when it is discovered that, oh shocker, Garrett Ward's family, Penny's family's bodyguards, are the villains. Betrayal!! *yawn* Their last name is Ward, how is this a surprise?


Ugh, why? So Penny goes from day-dreaming over Garett, her brother's best friend, to literally dreaming and mooning over Charlie, the hottest guy she's ever laid eyes on, within a few pages. And then wibble-wobbles back and forth briefly. And it was all so unnecessary and boring to read, not to mention mushy. It's almost as if the author wasn't sure what to do with Penny 100 pages in and decided that another love interest (from a rival Family, no less) would be the bestest thing to do. *facepalm*


I think the thing with Penny is that she is realistic. She's been sheltered her whole life, practically never leaves her family's estate, and just wants some freedom. She is whiny, naive, and makes a lot of stupid-ass decisions. (Attempting to run off with Garett after Carter's death, almost killing herself several hundred times, despite painful knowledge of her condition, etc) And to be honest, I'm not sure that I can blame her very much for a number of these things. But there's not denying that it was annoying to read because I wanted her to A. stop worrying about boys and B. focus on her family and keeping herself safe. The fact that Penny is alive at all is astonishing, quite frankly. By every single right in the universes, real and fictional, she should be dead. Anyways...At times, I empathized with her: her crippling disease, the murder of her whole family, but really, I found it hard to connect with her emotionally.

I didn't like Garett from the start and, while he wasn't as terrible as I thought he would be, he was still scum. I mean, sure he wanted to keep Penny safe, but his family killed hers and he did, oh, jack shit to do anything about it. But at least he semi-redeemed himself my taking a bullet at the end to save Penny. But still. And oh, your name sucks, Garett.

Charlie didn't really have a purpose, other than love interest and a nice intro to the Zhu Family. But other than that, he, as a character, and not a plot point, fell flat.

Penny's family was so little utilized. All we really get is snapshots and memories in a photo album, when I wanted the real deal. But by all accounts, for all their many many faults and illegal dealings, they meant well and weren't terrible people. I should have liked to have seen more of them. (I pretty much stopped caring, to be honest, when Carter was killed off.)


Not a whole to say here. The prose was simplistic, but generally avoided being childish. Nothing to commend, and nothing to complain about either.

Fairytale Retelling???:

Um, what fairytale? The author goes on and on about it being a retelling of the Princess and The Pea and makes a truly compelling and interesting case for it in her Afterword. However, so far as I could tell, there was only one element of the original fairytale in the book: the one scene at the end where Penny sleeps on the tall cushy bed of a box spring, and a mattress, and a bazillion blankets and is bruised by....something, but we don't really know what. But even though that is indeed the crucial moment in the fairytale, for the two pages it takes up in the book, it felt more like a homage or a nod to the fairytale than an actual retelling.


What this book had going for it in originality and basic story (ie. the description) it sorely lacked in execution. The potential was wasted, and I found it hard to care about Penny. Definitely won't be coming for the unnecessary sequel. (Though I'm sure the cover will be gorgeous.)
376 reviews351 followers
July 30, 2015
Read more reviews at Inspiring Insomnia.

This poor book. It’s a mess. The first 20% of the book could have been an article in a women’s magazine titled, “My Rare and Potentially Fatal Illness,” by Penelope Landlow. I learned more than I cared to know about Penny’s illness which results in her bleeding internally at the slightest bump and requires regular monitoring and treatment. It goes on and on: Don’t touch Penny! Don’t let Penny go outside! Keep treating Penny like a helpless infant! When it became clear that this was going to be a major theme throughout the book, I was ready to DNF. But the only thing of substance we learned in this first 20% is that Penny’s father is the head of a large organization that traffics in black market organs. I decided to continue on because I was waiting for Penny to give some thought to the ethics of the family business. Fortunately, it soon becomes clear why so much time was devoted to every nuance of Penny’s illness and how it relates to the larger plot. And the reason is…wait a minute. There is NO reason.

I think we can all agree that elderly people or people who have Down’s syndrome (two examples specifically cited in this book as people who are unable to get on donor waiting lists) should be able to get needed transplants. But what if their only means of getting these organs is to pay an enormous amount of money on the black market? What’s missing in this story is any thought given to the other side of the equation of the black market trade: the donor. In this book, the donors are painted in a very rosy light, like a college student who gives up a kidney in order to pay off her student loan debts. Sounds kinda nice, right? Everyone wins. But is this the reality? I watched a documentary last year about the black market for organs. The companies operate in third-world countries and prey upon impoverished, under-educated, and desperate people. These people give up their organs for a pittance, and their organs are then sold to wealthy Westerners. What happens if the donors get sick as a result of the procedure? What level of care do they receive? What happens if, years later, their one remaining kidney fails and THEY need a transplant? Will the company who took theirs step up to find a new one? Finally, do these people have any idea of the huge variance between the tiny payment they receive for giving up an organ and the large amount of money the donee pays for it?

OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now. But these are the things I wanted Penny to question. I wanted her to think about her family’s enormous wealth and how it wouldn’t have been possible if the donors weren’t being exploited. Both she (and the author) paint her family as the “good” black market organ factory, while the others are the bad ones. Incidentally, all of the organ companies in this story operate in the U.S. fairly openly. When any talk of fear of law enforcement comes up, it’s brushed aside with, “We’ve paid them all off.” How do all of these families keep their enormous, heavily secured, and heavily guarded estates away from prying eyes? “We pay off all the cab drivers so they won’t drive anyone up to our gates.” HUH???????

I’ll quickly sum up the rest of this story:

– Halfway through, a BIG, BAD THING happens that sends Penny on the run to New York. Most readers will immediately know who is responsible for the BIG, BAD THING. But not Penny.
– Before going on the run, Penny and one of her father’s employees engage in mutual flirting and swooning. Penny even tells her father that the two should get married and take over the business. Dad doesn’t like the idea.
– While on the run, Penny is desperate to get in touch with Guy # 1. She is madly in love with him until she (literally) runs into Guy # 2. Guy # 1 immediately disappears from her thoughts, and Penny and Guy # 2 engage in mutual flirting and swooning. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that EVERY reader will immediately know the real identity of Guy # 2. But not Penny.
– Guy # 2 stalks the hell out of Penny, and Penny loves it. He follows her to the apartment where she’s hiding, and he spends the next few days hovering outside, waiting for her to leave. That’s true love right there. Right? RIGHT???? Penny starts to fall even harder for this freak.
– Penny acquires some information indicating that some people on the other side of the country are about to be killed. By this point, she has made some high power contacts like, oh, for example, the Vice President of the United States. A member of the Secret Service. Rather than calling the endangered people or local law enforcement or the Vice President (who has proven himself trustworthy and willing to do anything to help and protect Penny), she boards a plane for a long flight to go directly to these people whom others are planning to kill. Smart move, Penny.

The rest plays out predictably, as well as ridiculously.

Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
March 29, 2018
DNF @ 20%

I've had this book for way too long, and I can't get myself to get back to it. This is definitely a "it's not me, it's you" issue because I've seen other readers enjoy it mightily. My main problem with this book was that it leans towards the dramatic side (largely due to the plot), but also exacerbated by the actions of the main character Penelope. I wasn't a fan of her personally, and the love triangle that developed was also not my style. The mafia-style family was an interesting aspect though, and I wish I had the heart to stay long enough to read more about those dynamics!

Thank you so much for the review copy Bloomsbury and Netgalley!
267 reviews37 followers
May 15, 2015
Penelope is a young naive girl that has severe health problems that act as chains keeping her locked up tight and away from everyone. No one is allowed to touch Penelope or speak with her about a future because she's so fragile. Being the daughter of a mafia leader should have a ton of perks but the only one she ever experiences is ordering things online.

As the main character of this story, Penelope is very likable and easy to relate to, at least for me. I loved the fact she was just this sickly girl who could have fit into any family. She wasn't a rich tart or manipulating, she was just a normal teenager. Coming into this story I was kinda expecting Penelope to act like those "Mob Wives" chicks on television with all the attitude and flash, so this was an unexpected surprised. Of course, I thought the health issues were horrible, however it adds a realistic note to this story.

The story itself is very well written and yet again I finished this book in less than two days. Going through the ringer with Penelope was hard because she not only dealt with serious health concerns, but also boy trouble,family issues and the desire to become something. All of which added a really great layer to this story which is essentially a bit of a love story with action.

The story goes through the motions of Penelope's life and how quickly everything can change because of one simple decision. There was some great character growth and exploration into the "what ifs" of the mafia world, and getting that rug pulled out from under you.

The love interests in this book are all quite acceptable ;) You'll just have to read it to find out more about the men in Penelope's world and what happens with that.

Altogether this is a great story for both teens and adults. I see no reason why a fifteen or fifty year old wouldn't enjoy this. I'm already waiting for the next addition to this series!
Profile Image for Erin Arkin.
1,686 reviews357 followers
June 2, 2015
Ok – I may be in the minority on this one but this story was only so/so for me and I have to admit…that makes me sad! I was so excited to dive into this book because really, crime families and black markets for organ transplants…I’m in!

Overall I thought the story was good, most of my issues lie in some of the actions Penny takes. Schmidt did a great job developing this story around the crime families and the family business. I also liked the way Schmidt built the story around Penny’s disorder. As a reader, I could feel her frustration around not being allowed to do anything due to the fear of what could potentially happen.

With that said, I found some of Penny’s actions unbelievable. Mostly because when she finds herself out in the world, on her own, she avoids calling the one person I would have expected her to lean on for just about anything. Not only that, she expects him to find her when he actually has no reason to believe she’s still alive. In addition to that, once she is on her own, she has a run in with Char and the friendship and feelings move quickly. Considering the trauma she recently went through, I found it odd that she would be willing to trust and ultimately fall in love with someone she doesn’t even know. Perhaps it is the realist in me but I don’t know that it was all that believable for me.

Anyway, as the story progresses and Penny really finds out what happened to her family / what is continuing to go on with the family business, I found myself drawn back into the story. I thought the ending was solid and am curious to see what might happen next in this series.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the review copy!
Profile Image for E.C..
Author 93 books391 followers
June 2, 2015
This book swept me off my feet! Deadly family secrets, tense situations, surprising truths, and captivating romance kept me in suspense from "Once upon a time" to "ever after". HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH is a gripping modern thriller for readers who still love fairy tales and people who think they've outgrown them. This is an offer you can't refuse!
Profile Image for Whitney.
343 reviews
July 2, 2015
100 pages in and I had to stop. I think this story has potential but it's just not for me. It didn't grab me and I don't think it will. I can just see where it's going and I know I'm not going to like it.

It may be the book for you but not for me!
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,665 reviews1,231 followers
May 18, 2015
An ARC of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are my own.

This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.

I think that Tiffany Schmidt's previous works are completely underrated. They're cute and enjoyable reads, and her The Princess and the Pea retelling is no different. It did get a little insta-lovey there for a minute, but it evened out and it had me rooting for the fragile girl who wasn't nearly as delicate as she seemed.

I do think that maybe I set my expectations for this book a bit too high. It's completely fabulous and unique as a retelling, but it almost felt like two separate books in one. Granted, that has a lot to do with a plot twist that IS rather divisive in nature, but Penelope was like two different people because of it. But it wasn't that fact that was off-putting but rather how easily she seemed to adjust to the change in her life.

Penelope's existence was already rather difficult, having to be extra cautious because every point of contact, every touch, could result in a bruise or worse. But when she finds herself on her own for the first time, she's only mildly disoriented at first, and it doesn't take her long to acclimate to her new place in the world. And she doesn't take very good care of herself either, which bothered me more than it should have.

When no one comes to her rescue, she sets out to make the most of her situation herself. Her knight in shining armor isn't coming for her, and before long, she meets a new guy. I admit that I shipped Penelope and Garrett at first. Friends to more romances are some of my favorites. And I didn't want to like Char, especially after their instant connection and the doe eyes and what-not, but he grew on me. I still didn't think that Penelope should be so trusting of someone who was obviously keeping secrets, but I had a feeling about Char, and I was spot-on.

I was actually pretty spot-on about much of the story, which is to say that it was more than a tad predictable. Still, that didn't detract from my overall enjoyment. I think my biggest gripe is that while Penelope proved she was stronger than everyone gave her credit for, she remained rather weak in character, becoming a bumbling idiot over a boy. I didn't mind the romance, but it just played too big a part in Penelope's story for my liking. Penelope wasn't used to so much human contact, though, so I can see why it was so important to her after everything she'd been through.

I love how the author made this fairy tale modern and still kept it familiar, and I love her note on why she wrote the story. I don't usually, but I actually read the author's note first because of the dedication, and it made me care that much more about the story I was going into. Penelope's plight is a sad, limiting one, but Schmidt weaves her tale in a way that isn't so much depressing as it is empowering. Toward the end, I did feel that Penelope had that inner strength...I just wish she'd showcased it a little more during the story.

GIF it to me straight:
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1,487 reviews64 followers
March 7, 2015
More of my reviews here at my blog: Take Me Away...

Real rating: 2.5

Another most anticipated book where I'm the back sheep so far. I was supposed to down right love this one, but as it turns out, it just wasn't for me.
For instance, it just seemed that nothing was really happening. The entire book was spent with the same cycle going over and over again. Penny was ok, then someone died, then she got sick. Sometimes the events were a little out of that order, but for the most part, that's exactly what kept happening. And because of that I didn't feel like there was a huge climax in the story. It I kept knowing what would happen because the same thing kept happening over and over. I just wasn't impressed. More like annoyed.
Maybe it's just the fact that I've read too many thrillers. Whatever the case was, the repetitiveness wasn't the only thing I was upset about in this story. I was also able to guess the villain and if you didn't know, that's my pet peeve of thrillers. If I can guess the killer/villain and I also didn't feel like it was entertaining the entire way, I'm more than likely going to vote down on it.
From the synopsis I was expecting this to be more gruesome. Towards the beginning (before I knew the plot was going to be a continuous cycle) I thought of this like one of my favorite shows, Forensic Files. But as the book went on, it just wasn't there. I just wanted more. Although I wasn't that impressed with this one, I'm hoping the rest of the series will be more creepy and have more than just what was done here.
As for the characters, I mainly kept reading this due to Penny. She grew enormously throughout this entire novel. Although she was still treated as a child, she grew up when she needed to. She just let everyone else to be taken care of and she forgot about herself. I would've been heartbroken had anything happened to her. She was what kept me hooked to this story.
Surprisingly this novel didn't go as planned for me. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this one or maybe I've just read too many thrillers, but I didn't like this one as much as everyone else seems to have.
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