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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-08-25 05:55
Hold Me Like A Breath
Hold Me Like a Breath: Once Upon a Crime Family - Tiffany Schmidt

**SPOILER ALERT**

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.

Plot:

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?

Romance:

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*

Characterization:

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.)

Writing:

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.

Overall:

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.)

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review 2015-06-08 17:48
The Princess and the Pea, with black market organs
Hold Me Like a Breath: Once Upon a Crime Family - Tiffany Schmidt

So, this book really worked for me. It worked for me as much as Charlie, Presumed Dead didn't work for me. 

 

To summarize: this book is basically the Princess and the Pea, set in a crime family that does black market organ sales for a (very lucrative) business. The main character, Penelope, is the sheltered daughter of the Landlows, the most powerful of the Families that control the organ trade. She is extremely medically fragile, suffering from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) which causes her spleen to destroy her platelets, leading to a serious bleeding disorder. Her blood can't clot.

 

As a consequence of this, she is 17, but she, at times, acts like she is about ten years old. She has been sheltered to the point of being homeschooled by a tutor. She is rarely allowed off the family compound, where her platelet count is constantly monitored, and she has a doctor who is basically devoted to managing her medical condition. Interestingly, a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) can sometimes help with the condition (this interesting to me mostly because of the fact that her family is involved in organ trade, so, irony. Sort of).

 

The beginning was a bit slow. There are suggestions that shit is about to happen. And then shit does happen.

 

Which is the point at which the book really captured my attention. Because suddenly this sheltered girl is on the run, with a devastatingly difficult to manage medical condition.

 

The discussion of "strong female characters" is always an interesting one to have - and often the discussion about strong women is framed by looking at strong men. Women who are physically intimidating, able to compete with men physically on an even playing field - women warriors, competitive female athletes, lady knights, and the like - are often what authors create when they are looking to write a "strong" woman. All to often, these strong characters are one-dimensional, cartoon cutouts of real people.

 

That is definitely not Penny Landlow - there is no argument to be made here that she possesses physical strength, which takes that out of the equation completely when we're talking about "strong" characters. But in other ways, Penny shows great strength. She ends up being far more resilient and resourceful than even she would have expected. She has been protected her entire life, but ends up turning those tables and acting as a protector.

 

There are many ways to be strong, and they don't all involve physical strength.

 

The romance is also sweet. It feels a little bit immature, maybe, because Penny's physical limitations also limit the level of physicality that is possible in her romantic relationships. But, because she doesn't share her condition, her love interest is the only person who has ever seen beyond her illness, to see her as a person, not just a diagnosis.

 

And, there is a big-ass coincidence, which would ordinarily annoy the crap out of me. But I was nonetheless so charmed by this book that I didn't even care.

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review 2015-05-19 00:00
Hold Me Like A Breath
Hold Me Like A Breath - Tiffany Schmidt Hold Me Like A Breath - Tiffany Schmidt Reced by:

http://hardcoversandheroines.com/2015/06/25/hold-me-like-a-breath-by-tiffany-schmidt/#comment-18646
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review 2015-05-18 14:52
Nope.
Hold Me Like a Breath: Once Upon a Crime Family - Tiffany Schmidt
 
 
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.
 
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review 2015-05-18 02:21
Inked by Eric Smith
Inked - Eric Smith

Ah, Inked. I'm still not sure where I stand on this book. The concept of tattoos imbued with magical powers fascinated me. The premise held so much promise of a world that I could get lost in. Alas, while there were a lot of pieces that I did enjoy, this wasn't exactly what I hoped for.

 

The world building was the first thing that left me on the fence. A world where magical tattoos determine the wearer's fate should have swept me up. The fact that there was an evil empire to fight back against would normally have pulled me in. The problem was, that this world building wasn't ever fully realized. Inked is rather short for a fantasy story. It flew by, so quickly that I wasn't able to grab a hold of anything. Sure, the magical tattoos were still fascinating. It just never went beyond that.

 

As for the characters, initially Caenum and Dreya were adorable. I loved the little bit of romance flowing between them. When Caenum decided that he wanted the opportunity to decide who he was, rather than allowing the magic to choose for him, I was smitten. That strength spoke to me. However these characters also suffered from the short length of this book. There wasn't much depth to them and so, even when the ending was happy, I wasn't that invested.

 

Great premise, but I really believe that it needed more time to come to fruition. 

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