ARC Review: Hold Me Like A Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

18584521Title: Hold Me Like A Breath (Once Upon A Crime Family, #1)

Author: Tiffany Schmidt

Publication date: May 19, 2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Pages: 400

Source: ARC from publisher (Thank you, Bloomsbury!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked


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.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads 

My review:

With a unique and compelling storyline, Hold Me Like A Breath caught my interest in a flash. I was very excited to read the book, particularly because it’s my first YA thriller, if I’m not mistaken.

Hold Me Like A Breath is a good story! Its concept is intriguing with a sprinkle of mystery. It also has depth and overflowing authenticity. Sadly, it did not live up to my expectations. I felt that some parts lacked intensity, that suspenseful drive required for a reader to fully experience the thrill in a thriller novel. Although there were tension-filled action scenes, I wish there had been more.

Hold Me Like A Breath has wonderful character development. It was good to see the main character, Penelope, grow into a brave and independent individual. Since Penelope grew up sheltered and well taken care of, it was a challenge for her to live and survive alone after a tragic incident happened to her family. What I liked about Penelope is that she didn’t let her vulnerability and fears get the best of her. The supporting characters are notable as well. Every one of them played a significant role in the story. But for the most part, one character stood out to me—Char. The adorable, geeky guy knows how to make a girl swoon! He made me smile A LOT! Sweet and very caring, Char’s a keeper and quite the ideal real-life prince charming. This fictional guy has my heart! 🙂

The romance…well, I thought it was a little rushed because things developed so fast between Penelope and Char after their first meeting. But for all that, Penelope and Char’s chemistry is irresistibly delightful. It deepened the more they got to know each other. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for a surprising revelation about Char towards the end of the book!

Author Tiffany Schmidt is a pro at creating well-developed characters and at weaving beautiful words together. Her writing is alive and magnetic. You’d want to read her words over and over again. 🙂

Hold Me Like A Breath ended with a promise for better things ahead so I’m certainly looking forward to the second book!



3/5 stars





Trailer Reveal: Hold Me Like A Breath by Tiffany Schmidt [w/ Excerpt + Giveaway!]

HMLAB trailer reveal

Hello everyone! Today I’m happy to share with you the trailer for Tiffany Schmidt’s new book, HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH! Many thanks to Tiffany Schmidt and to the ladies of The Fantastic Flying Book Club for the opportunity to be part of this awesome trailer reveal. 🙂



Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family #1)

by Tiffany Schmidt

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Release Date: May 19th 2015


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.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | Bloomsbury




There was always a moment as I rolled down the long driveway toward the high fence surrounding the estate when my breath caught in my chest and I doubted my decision to leave. Anything could happen to me outside the perimeter of our property.

Carter interrupted my thoughts. “I told Mother we’re going to see a musical. You know what’s playing and can pick one, right?”

Of course I did. I spent hours on NYC websites, blogs, and forums. Someday I’d go into a long remission. Someday I’d live there and walk the streets of promise, freedom, and opportunity they sang about in Annie, a play I’d seen with Father on Broadway right before my life turned purple and red.

“Really?” It made sense that Mother would agree to a play. It would be safe, a seated activity. The chairs would mark out defined personal space, and I’d be perfectly cocooned between my brother and his best friend/guard, Garrett Ward. It made a whole lot less sense that Carter would voluntarily attend the theater.

He lowered his window and called a greeting to Ian, the guard on gate duty. Once his window was closed and the gate was shutting behind us, he snorted. “No, not really. That’s just what I said to buy you some extra time.”

“You should at least listen to the score then,” I countered. “You know she’s going to want to discuss it. Or, if she doesn’t, Father will. He’ll probably perform it if I ask.”

“Then don’t ask,” said Carter. “Fine. Pick a show and Garrett can download the soundtrack. We’ll listen to it once, then I get the radio for the rest of the drive—no complaints.”

It was more than I’d expected; he truly felt guilty about being so MIA. “There’s a revival of Once Upon a Mattress that’s getting great reviews.”

They snickered.

Once Upon a Mattress? That sounds like—”

I cut my brother off. “Don’t go there! It’s a fairy tale, gutterbrain.”

“Of course it is,” laughed Garrett.

I’m pretty sure the subtext of that laugh was you’re such a child. I swallowed a retort. Freedom was too rare a thing to waste arguing. And I’d never had Korean barbecue. I’d never even heard of it. There were so many things I’d never seen, tasted, experienced . . . Tension melted into giddy anticipation, bubbling in my stomach like giggles waiting to escape.

“So, how’d your super-secret errand go?” I asked. “Was it something exciting? Something illegal?”

Garrett met my gaze in the rearview mirror and shook his head.

But it was too late. Carter’s expression darkened. “Everything we do is illegal. It’s not a game where you get to pick and choose which crimes you’re okay with.”

“So it didn’t go well,” I muttered under my breath.

I knew it wasn’t a game, and I knew the Family Business was against the law. I’d known it for so long it was easy to forget. Or remember only in a vague way, like knowing the sky is blue without paying any attention to its blueness.

Only in those moments when things went wrong—when lazy clouds were replaced by threats and storms, when someone got hurt or killed—only then did I stare down the reality of the Business through a haze of grief and funeral black. My fingers tensed on the edge of the seat.

“Ignore him,” said Garrett. “He’s just pissy because the people we were supposed to meet with stood us up.”

“Someone dared to no-show for a meeting with the mighty Carter Landlow?” I teased, hoping to break the gloom settling in the car like an unwelcome passenger. “I assumed it was a Business errand, but if someone stood you up, it must be a girl.”

“No offense, Pen, but you don’t have a clue what’s going on in the Business.”

No offense, Carter, but you’re being a—”

“Who wants to hear some songs about mattresses?” interrupted Garrett. He reached for the stereo, but Carter swatted his hand away.

“I’m not an idiot,” I said. And wishing for things that had been denied for so long was idiotic. No less so than repeatedly bashing your head against a wall or touching a hot iron. I knew the answer was no, was always going to be no, so asking to be included in Family matters was like volunteering to be a punch line for one of the Ward brothers’ jokes.

But I knew the basics. It wouldn’t be possible to live on the estate, spend so much time in the clinic, and not know. The first person to explain it to me had been my grandfather; fitting, since he was the man who’d reacted to the formation of FOTA—the Federal Organ and Tissue Association—by founding our Family.

The same day I’d demanded a kidney for Kelly Forman, he’d sat me down and demonstrated using a plate of crackers and cheese. “When donation regulation was moved from the FDA to FOTA, they added more restrictions and testing.” He ate a few of the Ritz-brand “organs” on his plate, shuffled the empty cheese slices that represented humans who needed transplants. “This, combined with a population that’s living longer than ever

before”—he plunked down several more slices of cheese—“created a smaller, slower supply and greater demand.” He built me an inside-out cheese-cracker-cheese sandwich. “It was a moment of opportunity, and when you see those in life, you take them.”

This felt like a moment of opportunity. And not to prove that I wasn’t an idiot by listing all the facts I knew—about how the Families provided illegal transplants for the many, many people rejected from or buried at the bottom of the government lists. How more than two-thirds of those who made it through all the protocols to qualify for a spot on the official transplant list died before receiving an organ. Or to recite the unofficial Family motto: Landlows help people who can’t afford to wait, but can afford to pay.

“Fine, tell me what I don’t know,” I said. “Tell me what’s going on, why you and Father are fighting, and what’s keeping you so busy. Tell me everything.”

Garrett muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “Don’t do this,” but since my brother ignored him, I did too.

Carter’s eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. “None of this leaves the car, Pen. I’m trusting you.”

“I understand.” I sat a little straighter. “And I promise.”

A phone beeped with a text alert, almost immediately followed by a ringtone that made them jump. Carter picked up his cell, swore, showed the screen to Garrett, then swore again. All the buoyancy of freedom seemed to evaporate from the car.

“Now? They blow us off earlier and expect us to answer now?” said Garrett.

“Well, it’s not like these things can be scheduled,” replied Carter, jabbing the screen of his cell. “Hello?”

He muttered low and furious into the phone, then hung up, still cursing. “We have to do the pickup.”

Garrett’s frowned. “No one else can do it?”

He shook his head.

“Pick up what?” I asked.

Carter opened his mouth, but Garrett put a hand on his arm. “She’s seventeen. Let her be seventeen. There’s plenty of time to get her involved later.”

“When we were seventeen we were already sitting on council, visiting the clinics, meeting with patients. She can’t even tell a kidney scar from a skin graft—she needs to catch up.”

She can make her own decisions, she is sitting right here, and she is coming along to what ever this mysterious pickup is, so she’s already involved,” I snapped.

“You are not coming,” said Garrett.

“We don’t have a choice, unless you want me to leave her on the side of the highway. This is our exit.” Carter was clutching his cell phone, shaking it as if that could erase what ever the text instructed him to do.

Garrett groaned. “You’re staying in the car.”

I hid my smile by looking out the window. It had gotten dark while we were driving, the dusky purple of summer evenings. On the estate these nights buzzed with a soundtrack of cicadas and crickets, but there was no nature outside the car. Nothing but concrete and pavement and cinder-block industrial construction. We pulled into a parking lot. A poorly lit, empty parking lot.

“Where are we? What are we picking up?” I examined Garrett’s stiff posture and the bright gleam in my brother’s eyes. “Does Father know about this Business errand?”

“No, and you’re not going to tell him,” Carter answered.

“Oh, really? So what am I going to do?”

“Stay in the car. Lock the doors. Keep the windows up.” Carter turned around to look me in the eye. “This isn’t a joke, Pen. If I’d known this was going to come up, I would’ve left you at home.”

“Please, princess,” added Garrett in a soft voice, but his eyes didn’t leave the windshield, didn’t stop their scan of the parking lot.

“Fine, but when you’re done, you’re filling me in. Then I can decide if I want to be part of it or not.” It was all false bravado. Each one of Carter’s statements tied another knot in my stomach; Garrett’s plea pulled them tighter.

Carter dumped a half dozen mints from the plastic container in his cup holder into his mouth—like his breath mattered, like this was a date not a disaster. He waved the container at us, but we shook our heads. He crunched the candies and said, “Gare,

you’re hot, right?”

I blurted out, “You can turn on the A/C, I’m not cold,” before I caught on: Garrett pulled a gun from a holster below the back of his shirt.

They laughed, but it wasn’t funny to me. I’d been to too many funerals—they’d been to more. I wanted to ask how long he’d been “hot.” If he always had a gun on him. Had he when we went mini golfing at Easter? Or the time last summer when I slipped on the pool deck and he’d carried me to the clinic? No. He couldn’t have then. He’d been wearing a swimsuit too—there’s no way he could’ve hidden a gun.

So what had happened in the past year, and why was he carrying one now?

Garrett was Family, he was a Ward, but he wasn’t supposed to follow his brothers’ footsteps. Or his father’s. They were enforcers, but he didn’t belong in their grim-faced, split knuckles ranks. That was why he was in college with Carter—Garrett was going to be his right-hand man when my brother took over the Business.

Not a thug with a gun.

“Stay here, Pen,” Carter said again, then slipped out into the night. His keys still dangled from the ignition, the engine still hummed.

Garrett lingered an extra moment. “This shouldn’t take long. And everything’s okay. I don’t want you to worry.”

“I’m not.” I would’ve sounded believable if my voice wasn’t quivering. If I weren’t clutching fistfuls of my dress.

“You’re cute when you’re worried.” Garrett winked, and then he too was out in the darkness and humidity and I was alone.

I tried to lower my window—just a crack, enough to let in voices but not even mosquitoes—except Carter must’ve engaged some sort of child lock. I stared out the tinted glass, watched as their shadows grew gigantic on the wall as they approached the

ware house, then disappeared around its corner.

No matter how hard I concentrated, my eyes couldn’t adjust enough to make sense of the dark. Maybe it was the placement of the parking lot lights—how I had to peer through them to see the warehouse beyond.

After they’d left this afternoon, I’d rushed to the clinic to model different outfits for Caroline. She’d teased. We’d laughed. I’d blushed and daydreamed about the lovely combination of me, Garrett, and NYC.

But in my daydreams, Garrett hadn’t been wearing a gun.

And now we were parked somewhere made of shadows and secrets and fear that sat on my tongue like a bitter hard candy that wouldn’t dissolve.

The car still smelled like them. Their seats were still warm when I leaned forward and pressed my hands against the leather. But I couldn’t see them. What if the dark decided never to spit them back out again?

This wasn’t the Business as I knew it: secret transplant surgeries that took place at our six “Bed and Breakfasts” and “Spas” in Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, and South Carolina, where we saved people like Kelly Forman. She’d been ten when she needed a kidney transplant, but her chromosomal mutation—unrelated to her renal impairment—earned her a rejection from the Federal Organ and Tissue Agency’s lists. According to them, Down syndrome made her a “poor medical investment.” FOTA wrote her a death warrant. We saved her life.

She graduated from high school a few weeks ago. The past nine years since we’d met—she wouldn’t have had those without the Family Business.

That was enough. That was all I needed to know. Illegal or not, that was good.

I heard something. A crack so sharp it echoed and seemed to fill the spaces between my bones, making me shiver. I prayed it was a car backfiring.

Then it happened again.



Tiffany Schmidt lives in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles. She’s not at all superstitious… at least that’s what she tells herself every Friday the thirteenth.

SEND ME A SIGN is her first novel. BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE will follow in Winter, 2014. The ONCE UPON A CRIME FAMILY series begins with HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH in 2015. You can find out more about her and her books at:, or by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt.

Connect with Tiffany via: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram | Goodreads

Details: Win (1) finished copy of Hold Me Like A Breath by Tiffany Schmidt (US Only)
Starts on Monday, April 20th and ends on Sunday, April 26th

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Boldly Bookish

This spring, Bloomsbury’s sending four amazing authors—Trish Doller, A.C. Gaughen, Emery Lord, and Tiffany Schmidt—to bookstores together for our Boldly Bookish tour. To celebrate it, they are giving away some goodies! All you have to do is buy one of the following books: The Devil You Know, Lion Heart, The Start of Me and You and/or Hold Me Like A Breath and email your receipt to, in order to receive one of the following prizes:

Preorder of the books pictured above, and get a Boldly Bookish logo sticker.

Preorder of the books pictured above, and get a sticker + a Boldly Bookish bookmark!

Preorder of the books pictured above, and get a sticker + bookmark + a Boldly Bookish button!

Preorder all 4 of the books pictured above, and get a sticker + bookmark + button + a Boldly Bookish magnet!

And remember, the more books you preorder, the more Boldly Bookish swag you get!

For more information on the Boldly Bookish Order Campaign, head over to Behind the Bloom.


ARC Review: Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt

Bright Before SunriseTitle: Bright Before Sunrise

Author: Tiffany Schmidt

Publication date: February 18, 2014

Publisher: Walker Children’s

Pages: 288

Source: e-ARC from publisher via Netgalley (Thank you, Bloomsbury!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Book Depository


When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, “miserable” doesn’t even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother’s first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real… until she breaks up with him.

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she’s really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She’s determined to change his mind, and when they’re stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance.

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.?

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Bright Before Sunrise is a delightful tale about love, embracing change, and opening one’s self to possibilities. Tiffany Schmidt’s sincere and effervescent writing made it so difficult to put this book down.

Realistic and compelling, Bright Before Sunrise tells the story of Jonah and Brighton, two completely different people who connected with each other over the course of one night. I loved that this book is written in alternate POVs of the guy and the girl. I couldn’t think of a better way for this story to be told as dual POVs thoroughly present the distinction between two characters.

Tiffany Schmidt created believable characters with engaging voices so their thoughts were such a pleasure to read. Jonah Prentiss is the new kid in town. Cold, aloof, and withdrawn, he distances himself from the people at school, not giving them a chance to know him. He has a tough time adjusting to his new life in Cross Pointe and still clings to his old life back in Hamilton. Meanwhile, Brighton Waterford, is the most popular girl in school and is loved by everyone. Sweet, innocent, and friendly, she wears a smile that lights up the hallways of Cross Pointe High School. Yet behind the brilliance of her smile, Brighton carries a burden that turns off her light as soon as she lets it weigh her down.

Jonah doesn’t like Brighton and Brighton is determined to find out why. Then destiny worked its magic in a surprising turn of events that led to Jonah and Brighton’s one night adventure filled with drama and sweet-as-vanilla-ice cream- sundae moments. Beautifully flawed and genuine, Jonah and Brighton have a natural chemistry that makes their interaction seem effortless. Their contrasting personalities became a great help in understanding each other’s differences and a firm foundation for their blossoming relationship. Jonah and Brighton proved that it doesn’t matter how long a person has to know someone to have a meaningful connection. The story also imparts the message that letting go of the past and moving forward are the keys to a promising new beginning. Beautiful, don’t you think?

A fun and adorable read, Bright Before Sunrise is a charming reminder that love happens in magical and extraordinary ways. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading feel-good contemporary YA romance. This book will certainly brighten up your day!


5/5 stars

Latest Haul!

photo (4)


Send Me A Sign by Tiffany Schmidt (Fully Booked)

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar (Fully Booked)

For review: 


Photo from Goodreads

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake (NetGalley)

Thank you, Tor Teen!


Time After Time

Photo from Goodreads

E-ARC of Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone (from Alice Marvels‘ giveaway)

I didn’t expect to win Alice Marvels’ giveaway! I was so happy when I received Lauren’s e-mail on August 8th telling me that I won an access of the Time After Time ARC. Two days later, Tamara’s e-mail came with the code of the Time After Time ARC from Disney Hyperion! *flails* Time Between Us is one of my favorite 2012 releases and I’m dying to read its sequel. More Bennett and Anna! Many thanks to Lauren of Alice Marvels, Tamara Ireland Stone, and Disney Hyperion! You guys definitely know how to put a smile on a bookworm’s face . 🙂