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Hold Me Like a Breath

(Once Upon a Crime Family #1)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,743 ratings  ·  436 reviews
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
Hardcover, 390 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Bloomsbury
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Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
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 b

*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 a
Faye, la Patata

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 w
Mar 02, 2014 marked it as maybe-read
Agh, lots of mixed reviews.
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
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 a
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
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 neve
A.C. Gaughen
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 s
Aug 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-releases
***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
The Book Jar Blog
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Read more of our reviews at:

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 s
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
Dark Faerie Tales
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 extre
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
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 fun
Mandy K
Apr 17, 2015 rated it liked it
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 w
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!
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
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,
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 w
Whitley Birks
Jun 09, 2015 marked it as dnf
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
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing






Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
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 (view spoiler). The other .25 was because I am a nice person.
God this was such an idiot-pathetic book.

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
Mar 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 29, 2018 marked it as dnf
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 aspe
Lanie (Lanies Book Thoughts)
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 sickl
Erin Arkin
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. A
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
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! ...more
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!
Starry-Eyed Jen
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 th
Nikki S
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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sent-for-review
Review originally posted on Le Book Chronicles

If I am completely honest, after reading the blurb I didn't anticipate ever reading this. I saw words like "black market" and "rival families" and though, yeah no, not for me. But after giving it to my sister to read (and her loving it) I decided to give it a go. I have to say I was so surprised! At first it was a bit confusing, all of the medical jargon and family business stuff was kind of going over my head, but I just found the story so interesti
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Tiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a Sign, Bright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family book 1).

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:, or by following her on Twitter @Tif

Other books in the series

Once Upon a Crime Family (2 books)
  • Break Me Like a Promise (Once Upon a Crime Family, #2)

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