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Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror

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A fateful family trip to an amusement park. An island movie theater that takes more than the patrons' cash. A cross-country drive with an unexpected encounter. A family man hellbent on making great time, no matter the cost. Fourteen horror authors share terrifying and twisted tales of summer vacation gone wrong in Worst Laid Plans: an Anthology of Vacation Horror. This anth A fateful family trip to an amusement park. An island movie theater that takes more than the patrons' cash. A cross-country drive with an unexpected encounter. A family man hellbent on making great time, no matter the cost. Fourteen horror authors share terrifying and twisted tales of summer vacation gone wrong in Worst Laid Plans: an Anthology of Vacation Horror. This anthology includes stories by V. Castro, Hailey Piper, Patrick Lacey, Scott Cole, Laura Keating, Malcolm Mills, Jeremy Herbert, S. E. Howard, Chad Stroup, Kenzie Jennings, Waylon Jordan, Greg Sisco, Asher Ellis, and Mark Wheaton, as well as a special introduction by Sadie Hartmann.


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A fateful family trip to an amusement park. An island movie theater that takes more than the patrons' cash. A cross-country drive with an unexpected encounter. A family man hellbent on making great time, no matter the cost. Fourteen horror authors share terrifying and twisted tales of summer vacation gone wrong in Worst Laid Plans: an Anthology of Vacation Horror. This anth A fateful family trip to an amusement park. An island movie theater that takes more than the patrons' cash. A cross-country drive with an unexpected encounter. A family man hellbent on making great time, no matter the cost. Fourteen horror authors share terrifying and twisted tales of summer vacation gone wrong in Worst Laid Plans: an Anthology of Vacation Horror. This anthology includes stories by V. Castro, Hailey Piper, Patrick Lacey, Scott Cole, Laura Keating, Malcolm Mills, Jeremy Herbert, S. E. Howard, Chad Stroup, Kenzie Jennings, Waylon Jordan, Greg Sisco, Asher Ellis, and Mark Wheaton, as well as a special introduction by Sadie Hartmann.

30 review for Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    I'm so honored to present this anthology to horror readers by way of writing the foreword/introduction. I'm not going to review it in the traditional sense, because, well--I wrote the damn foreword! But just know that as a horror genre-buff, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the stories here. I'm so honored to present this anthology to horror readers by way of writing the foreword/introduction. I'm not going to review it in the traditional sense, because, well--I wrote the damn foreword! But just know that as a horror genre-buff, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the stories here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Janelle Janson

    WORST LAID PLANS - An Anthology of Vacation Horror, edited by Samantha Kolesnik is an excellent blend of stories that I happily breezed right through. The forward is written by my friend, and unbeknownst to her, my mentor, Sadie Hartmann and I might’ve fangirled just a tiny bit (okay a lot ). Here’s the funny thing: the first paragraph of the forward could’ve easily been written about me. My family went to Dillon Beach every year in November-ish and stayed at a beach house for a week. Except we w WORST LAID PLANS - An Anthology of Vacation Horror, edited by Samantha Kolesnik is an excellent blend of stories that I happily breezed right through. The forward is written by my friend, and unbeknownst to her, my mentor, Sadie Hartmann and I might’ve fangirled just a tiny bit (okay a lot ). Here’s the funny thing: the first paragraph of the forward could’ve easily been written about me. My family went to Dillon Beach every year in November-ish and stayed at a beach house for a week. Except we were at The Anderson’s not Wit’s End. And yes, we stopped in Petaluma for lunch, haha. Vacation horror just grabs you, doesn’t it? If you really sit back and think about every trip you’ve been on and everything that could’ve gone wrong, it’s terrifying. I am impulsive, adventurous, and often drunk on vacation so think of the possibilities. The only thing I will never do is go on a cruise - I would rather take my chances and jump overboard. Standouts: The Cacuy of Cancun is about an ancient monster known as the “harbinger of nightmares”. It’s short and not a word was wasted. And I discovered a new favorite author. You’ve Been Saved is an intriguing cross-country road trip story. Two old friends take a trip only to run into what appears to be a harmless couple in an RV. Something is amiss and ending is awesome. Unkindly Girls sneaks up on you in the best way. Piper has a way of setting up a chilling story involving an unconventional father-daughter relationship. Peelings is likely my favorite story. A mom trying to get a minute to herself during a family vacation at a theme park. The body horror is just written so perfectly. Deep In the Heart is about a tourist trip into a cave to find stalagmites and stalactites. Unfortunately these tourists do not have a good time. Penanggalan centers around a trip to Penang. There is a “vampiric creature” who practices black magic there so why not go check it out? But watch out for the smell of vinegar. @heymalcolmmills The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators by Malcolm Mills is an odd twist on an age old question and a particular fetish. Thank you so much to Samantha and Grindhouse Press for my copy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Well Read Beard

    3.5 Stars Vacation horror, I had never thought of this until right now, but vacation horror is absolutely one of my favorite horror sub-genres. Horror outside the safety of home, horror on the road, horror in a strange mysterious place. The lack of familiarity in your surroundings seems to amplify the dread and the fear. Scott Smith's The Ruins comes to mind when thinking about my personal favorite example of vacation horror. We also live in a time where it's pretty hard to take a vacation. Famili 3.5 Stars Vacation horror, I had never thought of this until right now, but vacation horror is absolutely one of my favorite horror sub-genres. Horror outside the safety of home, horror on the road, horror in a strange mysterious place. The lack of familiarity in your surroundings seems to amplify the dread and the fear. Scott Smith's The Ruins comes to mind when thinking about my personal favorite example of vacation horror. We also live in a time where it's pretty hard to take a vacation. Families are looking at destinations, looking at a map and weighing the dangers more so than ever before, or at least my family is. A random bathroom break at a rest stop or convenience store carries more dangerous weight today than it ever has before. People are afraid in their homes, but they are really afraid when they step outside what they have deemed a safety zone. So, with all that said, what better way to spend your summer at home than reading about all the reasons not to travel. All those frightening beasts of the road, all those evil things at the resort or the amusement park, they are real. Or, or - maybe the horror has been living with you all this time. Maybe you are bringing the terror with you, maybe it just needs a little sun and sand to show itself. Maybe. 14 stories across 169 pages. There were probably 6 or so of these that I really, really liked, and there were only a couple that didn't do it for me. It was a really strong anthology. At the time of reading, I was really only familiar with Hailey Piper's work. I follow, run in the same twitter circle as some of the others, but hadn't experienced their work yet. That made it even more enjoyable, finding "new to me" authors that pleasantly surprised and satisfied my horror tooth. You don't have a horror tooth? It's like a sweet tooth but for horror. No? Just me? Whatever. Sadie Hartmann, Mother Horror herself, kicks us off with a fun foreword. She does a fine job of setting the tone for what is to come. She gives us a brief glimpse of her childhood vacations and does this thing where everything has the potential to be horrific. Everything has the potential to hurt you. Turn on the news, look around. I am by no means a negative doomsday type of person, but Sadie is right. Let's get into these stories - I will give a brief bit about each one and pick my top 4. 1. You've Been Saved - SE Howard - 2 guys are traveling together, a young girl traveling with an older couple in an RV passes one of the guys a note at a road side diner - "Help" - this story spirals quick, in my opinion the most frightening story in the book. 2. Summers With Anne - Greg Sisco - a young boy loses his father at a vacation spot movie house. Reality twists in this one, people who watch a particular film disappear. Awesome quote about life on page 35 "Life has a way of doing that. Something that crashes your world down one year is a scar you don't think about the next, and something you pass without a second glance today, you realize tomorrow it meant the world." 3. Expertise - Asher Ellis - A dive instructor and his customer are being pursued by a large barracuda. Things are more sinister than they seem and some creatures cannot be tamed. 4. Unkindly Girls - Hailey Piper - A father and daughter vacation together. He is strict, controlling of what she can wear, how she acts. "Don't be unkindly." One of the ones that fits the "bringing the terror with you" vibe. I really like Hailey's stuff. She doesn't disappoint. 5. Deep In The Heart - Waylon Jordan - Cave tour horror. Bits about absolute darkness and underground catfish ( how creatures underground adapt without light). 6. Peelings - Kenzie Jennings - Disney trip, overbearing husband. A story about breaking free. A bit of caterpillar to the butterfly type of thing. 7. The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators - Big Reptile Convention, think comic con for gators/crocs. Cosplay, debauchery. Really cool piece defining the difference between the two animals. Probably the wildest story. 8. The Cucuy of Cancun - V Castro - an attractive woman is more than she seems. ( Well of course she is. ) - This one has a talent for luring young vacationers into taking her out for a meal. 9. Taylor Family Vacation '93 - Jeremy Herbert - early camcorder, father filming trip. He is a numbers guy, and he keeps losing time on the tape. Thinks someone is getting into room at night and messing with the camera. This one gets into a parent's worst fears. 10. The Penanggalan - Scott Cole - story about a Malaysian folkloric vampiric creature. Fun creature feature. 11. Sex With Dolphins - Chad Stroup -the title definitely feels more gross and absurd that the actual story. I loved this story about a young wife losing her husband to the sea. Beautiful passages in this one, page 122 about the natural hot tub and newlyweds being willing to "go to war" for romance. Again on page 125, the paragraph ending with "gorgeous graveyard". Again on 127, "Kristy sits because standing is so unbearable." I really, really enjoyed Chad's writing. 12. Caught A Glimpse - Patrick Lacey - a vacation neighbor comes to borrow much more than just sugar. 13. In The Water - Mark Wheaton - A resort hurricane party. Part of the story is told from the perspective of a post event crime scene investigation. One of those cool tricks where the author gets you looking one way, focusing on danger from over here. Then the actual villain sneaks up behind you. 14. Good Time In The Badlands - Laura Keating - It's probably never going to be a good idea to try to take a shortcut in a place called "The Badlands". My favorites: I feel I need to mention that both Summer With Anne and Expertise were really, really close to breaking into this top 4, so I guess kind of an honorable mention. #4 Peelings #3 Unkindly Girls #2 You've Been Saved #1 Sex With Dolphins

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Robinson

    3.5 rounded to 4. “Screaming, though whether from pain or pleasure , he couldn’t tell…sometimes the screams layered over one another, a symphony , and it was beautiful and horrible.” – “Caught a Glimpse” by Patrick Lacey As Grindhouse Press’ first anthology, Worst Laid Plans will appeal to a wide variety of readers. From regular horror fans to those who just want some scary to go with their beach time, the variety of stories in here means most readers will find something to love. I am a huge fan 3.5 rounded to 4. “Screaming, though whether from pain or pleasure , he couldn’t tell…sometimes the screams layered over one another, a symphony , and it was beautiful and horrible.” – “Caught a Glimpse” by Patrick Lacey As Grindhouse Press’ first anthology, Worst Laid Plans will appeal to a wide variety of readers. From regular horror fans to those who just want some scary to go with their beach time, the variety of stories in here means most readers will find something to love. I am a huge fan of the diversity of authors represented here; Kolesnik does a wonderful job of bringing not only different styles of writing together, but different lenses as well. As always with anthologies, there are stories I love and some that don’t work for me, and that’s fine. I will highlight my just a few of my favorites below (I cannot list them all!) with just a few lines of why I loved them. “You’ve Been Saved” by S.E. Howard: This is a great first story. Two friends reminisce about good days as they travel. They briefly meet a seemingly innocuous couple in an RV. And all hell breaks loose from their. This story, while the horror ramps up at the end, is sure to appeal to a lot of readers. I had fun with it! “Unkindly Girls” by Hailey Piper: I love Piper’s writing, I make no attempt to hide it. This story boasts the same wonderful writing and while it is different than others I’ve read from her, Piper’s voice comes through. A young woman vacations with her (questionable) father, tries to make friends, and the rest? Well, that’s for readers to find out. This is one of my top 3 stories in this anthology. “Deep in the Heart” by Waylon Jordan: Family + cave + chomp and stomp. This one is bloody and gory and at the same time tugs on my heart strings a little. A definite favorite. “Peelings” by Kenzie Jennings: This one is another of my top 3 in this book. Jennings pulls no punches as we are forced to witness the horrible husband this woman has and her, well, unusual way of eventually dealing with it. And I’m glad she did, I HATE this husband. Side note: If you love this story, be sure to check out her debut novel, Reception. “The Cucuy of Cancun” by V. Castro: Beautifully dangerous, this story rounds out my top 3 stories in this anthology. I want someone to be on vacation in Cancun and read this story, pretty please? Or any beach, for that matter. This one is brutal and gory and I found myself landing 100% on the side of the cucuy. I love stories that do this. “The Penanggalan” by Scott Cole and “Caught a Glimpse” by Patrick Lacey are my other two favorites in this anthology. Both of them are well written and by authors I’ve read before, which made it feel like coming home. Cole’s story is the shortest in the book and some readers may feel like it needs more, but I love that he leaves it up to the reader to fill in the blanks about the monster within. Lacey’s story is the story of a man trying to escape his life for moment, and boy does he. It also has some ambiguous moments and this story just works for me. Note: the final story by Laura Keating is a strong end to this anthology. Realistic situations and dialogue meet cosmic horror and I had a ton of fun with this one. As is the case with any gathering of short stories, readers probably won’t love them all. That’s okay. I was able to read new stories from authors I had already read AND find new ones to explore further, so that’s a solid win in my book. The cover, the authors, and the variety of styles within will cause readers to pick this up with a quickness.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erica Robyn Metcalf

    Worst Laid Plans is an amazing collection of tales centering around vacations that all take a bit of an unexpected turn. From the bizarre to absolutely terrifying, this collection had it all! But be warned, this isn't one to pick up before you head out on your next vacation. Unless, of course, you want to spend your vacation looking over your shoulder for anything unusual, avoiding meeting new people, or second guessing your travel partner... Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book Worst Laid Plans is an amazing collection of tales centering around vacations that all take a bit of an unexpected turn. From the bizarre to absolutely terrifying, this collection had it all! But be warned, this isn't one to pick up before you head out on your next vacation. Unless, of course, you want to spend your vacation looking over your shoulder for anything unusual, avoiding meeting new people, or second guessing your travel partner... Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way. First things first, can we talk about that cover?! I cannot wait to snag a physical copy for my shelves… I’m obsessed! Per usual with any anthology, I will add my quick notes on each of the stories below. Foreword by Sadie Hartmann Oh my gosh, what a forward! When reading, I assumed each point Sadie made would relate to a story in this collection, and I couldn’t wait to find out if that was the case! Also… this passage, “I can’t imagine why anyone would think it’s a good idea to drag all of their nice things out into nature and sleep in a tent. There’s nothing but a thin layer of fabric to protect you from . . . ANYTHING.” AGREED. Camping creeps me out so much! I camped when I was a kid growing up on an island off the coast of Maine where the only thing you needed to worry about was sap and ticks, but even then I was always wicked spooked. You’ve Been Saved by S.E. Howard – 4/5 This tales about two young men named Chris and Ethan who are on a road trip. At one of the stops along the way, a young girl bumps into Chris and hands off a note. The note reads simply “HELP.” Chris stalls and can’t decide what to do, while Ethan thinks it’s a joke. Little did they know, there was something much more sinister than a kidnapping going on. What a creepy tale! And my goodness, I hated Ethan immediately when I saw how quickly he brushed off the call for help as a joke. Summers with Annie by Greg Sisco – 5/5 Summers with Annie is the title of a film that a five year old boy and his father go to see when they arrive on an island for their vacation. But when the boy falls asleep before the end of the movie, he wakes up to find his father isn’t in the seat next to him… This one was terrifying! What a creepy premise. I loved it! I also really enjoyed the way it was written! It was like I was sitting down with someone telling me a story about their past, complete with little one offs that tie the story together in the end. I LOVED this passage: Life has a way of doing that. Something that crashes your world down one year is a scar you don’t think about the next, and something you pass without a second glance today, you realize tomorrow it meant the world. Expertise by Asher Ellis – 5/5 When this story begins, we meet two people who are out diving in the ocean in a secluded area. The woman who paid for the private excursion notices something large following her. She panics a bit, thinking that it’s a shark. Her guide takes a look and sees that it’s a barracuda. He tries to keep her calm, even though it’s the largest barracuda he has ever seen. But the barracuda isn’t the only thing to be feared out there in the water… This one was so fast paced and it really packed in such an intense feeling of dread throughout. Unkindly Girls by Hailey Pipez – 4/5 In this tale, a girl and her father are vacationing on a beach. The father has very clearly drilled ideas into his young daughters head about not being “unkindly.” But just why that is… the girl is about to find out. What a heartbreaking tale. What a brave little girl! Deep in the Heart by Waylon Jordan – 5/5 A family decides to take a trip into a cave to see the stalactites and stalagmites. While separated from the group, Michael hears something. The tour guide dismisses it and they move on. But what if something was lurking in the dark of the caves? SO spooky. The darkness definitely creeps me out. I can’t even imagine being underground in total darkness… No thank you! Peelings by Kenzie Jennings – 3/5 This story is about a family taking a last minute trip to the happiest place on Earth. While there, the mom gets a nasty sunburn. As she peels, she realizes that it’s not like any sunburn she’s had before… LOVED the ending of this one. The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators by Malcolm Mills- Not one for me unfortunately. The Cucuy of Cancun by V. Castro – 4/5 This story was about a boogeyman that preys on nasty tourists but needs a vacation herself. Well, that was the worst timing, I got up to get a snack and then started this tale… The third paragraph was a doozy! Taylor Family Vacation ’93 by Jeremy Herbert – 4/5 A heartbreaking tale about a family on vacation, but not everything is what it seems. “Double Digit” Dan Taylor brings his camera everywhere. While it records bits and pieces of their trip, it’s also recording more than Dan originally realized. This one was wicked sad, but it had me on the edge of my seat! The Penanggalan by Scott Cole – 4/5 In this quick tale, we see a couple taking a last minute trip. On the plane, one of the characters finds a book and reads about a Penanggalan; a creature with the head of a beautiful woman, but whose lower half is a mess of organs floating. As the couple explores the city, the main character can’t stop thinking about the being. WOAH. That was intense. I love tales like this because they make me second guess what happened! I loved the element of the vinegar smell. Sex with Dolphins by Chad Stroup- 4/5 When a couple travels on their honeymoon, a secluded section of beach calls to them. Right before they leave, something snags the groom and he doesn’t return to the surface of the water… My gosh, I didn’t know what to expect diving into a story with a title like this! It was equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming. I loved the ending! Caught a Glimpse by Patrick Lacey- 5/5 Who doesn’t want to get away from it all for a bit? This man goes on a “work trip” where he stays in a cottage for some peace and quiet. But one day he spots a neighbor next-door… While I hate that this character lied to his wife, I loved how the tale turned out! Phew! And that ending! In the Water by Mark Wheaton- 5/5 In this tale, two girls are on vacation looking for fun. When a storm rolls in, they are worried about being bored. Little do they know, that’s not going to be their concern for long. This one was filled with so many twists and turns! I loved the different storylines all woven into one. Good Time in the Bad Lands by Laura Keating – 5/5 Ah road trips with the family… never a good time. That’s just what this tale is about. Determined to make good time, this father is set on making this a trip to remember for his family. But they’re about to enter the bad lands and learn why it got such a name. What a tale to end with! Holy cow. Bizarre and terrifying! My Final Thoughts Ah vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I do love to travel every now and again. I also have a list of places that I want to see someday… but traveling really wears me out. I always feel like I need a vacation after vacation to regroup. After reading this collection, I’m not exactly mad that I will be staying home for the foreseeable future… This was such a fun collection. I highly recommend it to fans of horror!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richelle SheReadsHorror

    Do you ever just want to read horror all year round? I do but I’m also someone who loves to read books that correlate with the season I’m currently smothered in. I have some book recommendations for winter and fall but spring and summer kinda get left behind. I guess people think that summer is too happy and cheery to read horror and I’m here to say their wrong. Let’s read horror for the summer! This anthology was a nice mix of stories and authors. Most I’ve never heard of before and will defini Do you ever just want to read horror all year round? I do but I’m also someone who loves to read books that correlate with the season I’m currently smothered in. I have some book recommendations for winter and fall but spring and summer kinda get left behind. I guess people think that summer is too happy and cheery to read horror and I’m here to say their wrong. Let’s read horror for the summer! This anthology was a nice mix of stories and authors. Most I’ve never heard of before and will definitely be checking them out. I have quit a few stories I’d consider 5 stars (they were my favorites) and all the rest besides one were 4 stars.. that one story really had me scratching my head. I still haven’t figured it out. My general consensus for this anthology was a 4.5 ⭐️ . Ok I’m cool with continuing my vacations at home cause the outside world is way to scary. Thank you to Samantha and grindhouse press for sending me this book for a review consideration! Thank you sadie for the perfect opener of this anthology! —- 𝙈𝙮 𝙣𝙤𝙩𝙚𝙨 𝙛𝙧𝙤𝙢 𝙚𝙖𝙘𝙝 𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮 —- Most of these are my thoughts, experiences and relations to my own vacations for each story. Most is left open to interruption in hopes of not giving anything away for the story. 𝒀𝒐𝒖’𝒗𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒔𝒂𝒗𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝑺.𝑬. 𝑯𝒐𝒘𝒂𝒓𝒅 I got to wondering what do bumper stickers say about us. Do you ever wonder if bumper stickers tell a story of the passengers? I’ve always wondered if people use them as a disguise or if they genuinely describe the driver’s personality. If someone needs your help, would you help them if you could? Or would you mind your own business and keep on with your life like everything is fine? This story had me wondering what would I do. ⭐️ 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒖𝒎𝒎𝒆𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝑨𝒏𝒏𝒊𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝑮𝒓𝒆𝒈 𝑺𝒊𝒔𝒄𝒐 While I was reading this story, I felt so lost at times but the story held an undercurrent of dread to it. My mind kept grasping at the clues and trying to peace together the puzzle. Then i came to the realization of what was happening, i had a hard time telling whether I was happy or sad about it but I loved it. This one is my favorite story! The author did a great job of packing in so many intricate details into this short story. I want to find more of his work! 𝑬𝒙𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒕𝒊𝒔𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝑨𝒔𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝑬𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒔 If you love reading foreign bodies of water horror, this one is for you! I was curious about the direction of the story but the ending was superb. 𝑼𝒏𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒍𝒚 𝒈𝒊𝒓𝒍𝒔 𝒃𝒚 𝑯𝒂𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒚 𝑷𝒊𝒑𝒆𝒓 Watch what you wear at the beach. You could be labeled an unkindly girl. Your strutting around showing off your skin. You will be marked as an unkindly girl. A sinner in the eyes of many. This story made me think of when people say “well she was asking for it” .. no she wasn’t!!! I loved the ending. 𝑫𝒆𝒆𝒑 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒕 𝒃𝒚 𝑾𝒂𝒚𝒍𝒐𝒏 𝑱𝒐𝒓𝒅𝒂𝒏 Dark caves are scary places to be. They are scary and dark. It’s really not a great place to be when you claustrophobic either. ⭐️ 𝑷𝒆𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒃𝒚 𝑲𝒆𝒏𝒛𝒊𝒆 𝑱𝒆𝒏𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 Family vacations are the worst. It’s especially bad in close quarters when you already have nerves on edge with the people around you. It’s like it amplifies the situation. I remember a trip I went on with my family and brought an extra person along. They could not handle that extra person emotions or habits. It was just a bad situation all together. I’ve since learned that my family can’t handle my friends on a vacation. I mean we sometimes cant handle each other so I don’t know why I thought being a friend along would be a good idea. I don’t know why I went on this tangent but it gives my underlying feelings for this story. 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑫𝒊𝒇𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒕𝒘𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝑪𝒓𝒐𝒄𝒐𝒅𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒔 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑨𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒈𝒂𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒔 𝒃𝒚 𝑴𝒂𝒍𝒄𝒐𝒎 𝑴𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒔 This of an unreliable main character who takes drugs before a gator tour/gator con . This story is wild and so confusing. Reminds me of a time when i went on vacation with some friends and we had some illegal things. We were just there to have fun but we were in a large crowd and I remember getting lost and separated from them. It was the scariest situation of my life. Yea, that I was a great idea in theory but not in practice. I think I’ll be pondering over this story for a while. Update: I’m still scratching my head with this one. ⭐️ 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑪𝒖𝒄𝒖𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝑪𝒂𝒏𝒄𝒖𝒏 𝒃𝒚 𝑽. 𝑪𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒐 This is the vacation of horrors. When your in a new place never trust a pretty face. I really enjoyed this story and I feel like it was cut way too short. Give me more! 𝑻𝒂𝒚𝒍𝒐𝒓 𝑭𝒂𝒎𝒊𝒍𝒚 𝑽𝒂𝒄𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 ‘93 𝒃𝒚 𝑱𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒎𝒚 𝑯𝒆𝒓𝒃𝒆𝒓𝒕 This one i was confused through most of it till the end but that’s what the author wants because the ending hits you like a ton of bricks! I think this is my worst fear of family vacations. 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑷𝒆𝒏𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒈𝒂𝒍𝒂𝒏 𝒃𝒚 𝑺𝒄𝒐𝒕𝒕 𝑪𝒐𝒍𝒆 We learned from the evil dead that finding random books and reading them is probably not the best idea ever. Read at your own risk! These things should come with a warning label. ⭐️ 𝑺𝒆𝒙 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝑫𝒐𝒍𝒑𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒔 𝒃𝒚 𝑪𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝑺𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒑 Wow! Again with those pesky monsters in the water. I dunno why these stories fill me with so much anxiety. Is it the fear of drowning or unable to move fast enough? Maybe both. This story really blew me out of the water. This story was amazing. It really hit on all those levels of grief horror. 𝑪𝒂𝒖𝒈𝒉𝒕 𝒂 𝑮𝒍𝒊𝒎𝒑𝒔𝒆 𝒃𝒚 𝑷𝒂𝒕𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒌 𝑳𝒂𝒄𝒆𝒚 Do you ever just go on vacation and see random people and start to make a life for them. It’s like a game. You make up a person’s life story just by looking at them. I’m a major people watcher when I go on vacation and I can’t help but wonder what other people’s lives are like. Where did they come from? What do they do for a living? You get sucked in and can’t stop looking. After reading this story, there are some people I don’t wanna know about. This story has those slow creepy vibes! ⭐️ 𝑰𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒃𝒚 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒌 𝑾𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒐𝒏 You know you can’t have a horror anthology without including a little human tracking and kidnapping. I don’t normally like police investigation books but this story goes back and forth between the police investigation and the victims stories has me hooked. Some discoveries even had my jaw dropping as I was reading. Like what?!!!!! ⭐️ 𝑮𝒐𝒐𝒅 𝑻𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑩𝒂𝒅 𝑳𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒔 𝒃𝒚 𝑳𝒂𝒖𝒓𝒂 𝑲𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 Ok now for our last family vacation, let’s make it memorable! The kids are all growing up and family vacations will never be the same. I think this story is fitting for the end of the book like it’s our last hurrah.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Holly (The GrimDragon)

    “I want to nuzzle in their heart chambers and soak in their blood. I want to fill this grubby, over-chlorinated pool with their limbs. Their severed heads will float like abandoned inflatable toys. Some of them will have their flesh made into strips of jerky while I slurp on their chilled brain matter like a piña colada. In the morning, I will moisturize my tan skin with their melted down fat because it prevents me from burning beneath the hot Mexican sun. I am the Cucuy of Cancun.” Sometimes even “I want to nuzzle in their heart chambers and soak in their blood. I want to fill this grubby, over-chlorinated pool with their limbs. Their severed heads will float like abandoned inflatable toys. Some of them will have their flesh made into strips of jerky while I slurp on their chilled brain matter like a piña colada. In the morning, I will moisturize my tan skin with their melted down fat because it prevents me from burning beneath the hot Mexican sun. I am the Cucuy of Cancun.” Sometimes even the best laid plans can go up in flames. This horror anthology, edited by Samantha Kolesnik, is about summer vacations gone wrong. We’ve all had one. Maybe not *quite* like these, but shitty experiences when we are supposed to be enjoying ourselves nonetheless. I love nature. But camping in the great outdoors? OH HELL NO! Besides the fact that sleeping on the ground with just a piece of fabric between you and who knows whatever the fuck is out there, there are endless possibilities of inherently creepy things about camping. I mean, I’m a horror fan with an overactive imagination. OF COURSE MY MIND WOULD GO TO THE DARK SIDE! What could go wrong? Animal attacks. Strange sounds all.. night.. long. Unsettling findings deep in the woods. Glowing orbs. Suspicious campers. Shit, that was just one experience I’ve personally had while camping! Then of course there’s.. AVOIDING STABBY MCSTABBERSONS AROUND THE CAMPGROUNDS. You know, the usual. Worst Laid Plans includes stories by V. Castro, Hailey Piper, Patrick Lacey, Scott Cole, Laura Keating, Malcolm Mills, Jeremy Herbert, S. E. Howard, Chad Stroup, Kenzie Jennings, Waylon Jordan, Greg Sisco, Asher Ellis and Mark Wheaton, as well as a foreword by Sadie Hartmann. “Something that crashes your world down one year is a scar you don’t think about the next, and something you pass without a second glance today, you realize tomorrow it meant the world.” What with a global pandemic going on, traveling is out of the cards for most of us right now. And rightfully so! However, reading this should remove some of those wanderlust desires.. at least for a little while. A monstrous couple, giant red barracuda, unkindly girls, caverns that contain mutant catfish creatures, an orgasmic sunburn, crocodiles vs. alligators, a centuries old Cucuy, snapshots of memories on a VHS recorder, a vampiric penanggalan, people who have sex with dolphins, a peeping Tom, storms and drug dealers, a trip to the Badlands gone horribly wrong! Each of these stories have their own distinct vibe, yet are cohesive throughout the collection. Some stories are more successful than others, like with any anthology. Along with the creature features, there are real life horrors reflected in this. After all, those are the ones that tend to hit close to home. Nagging loneliness, a kid seeing the beach for the first time, sweltering heat that is indescribable when stepping off of the plane, predatory adults and dead summer friends. I’m a sucker for monsters, but it’s the hauntingly human side of things that truly stick with me. Summers with Annie was a favorite with the oldschool nostalgic feel and emotional impact. Covering the creature horror, Deep in the Heart was a standout for me. I just loved everything about it! If you are looking for something campy and fun, Good Time in the Bad Lands was a fucking blast! As someone who lives in the prairies, this road trip story through the flat landscape spoke to me! It was the perfect story to end this anthology. Although I feel a higher page count would have benefited this particular collection overall, Samantha Kolesnik has curated an impressive variety of stories for Worst Laid Plans. More dark and demented vacation horror stories, please! (Thanks to Grindhouse Press and Samantha Kolesnik for sending me a digital copy!) **The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication**

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received an e-book ARC of Worst Laid Plans from Samantha Kolesnik and Grindhouse Press in return for my honest review, which follows below. I thank both for this opportunity. This anthology is opened with a forward from Sadie Hartmann, the horror community’s very own Mother Horror. She gives us a little family history and some advice that would serve well heeded, not all vacations are created equal, and danger is everywhere. I know for me she has been a positive beacon, drawing me into the horr I received an e-book ARC of Worst Laid Plans from Samantha Kolesnik and Grindhouse Press in return for my honest review, which follows below. I thank both for this opportunity. This anthology is opened with a forward from Sadie Hartmann, the horror community’s very own Mother Horror. She gives us a little family history and some advice that would serve well heeded, not all vacations are created equal, and danger is everywhere. I know for me she has been a positive beacon, drawing me into the horror family I always wanted, and I loved seeing her name on this anthology. Remember, we are all her children, Mother Horror loves us. I gave this anthology 5 stars, because each story was well written, interesting and unique, even if some of the points went over my head. I think these are all perfect examples of how not to have a vacation, any reader of dark fiction is in for a treat. You’ve Been Saved by S. E. Howard – “No good deed goes unpunished” could be the tag line for this story. Two friends taking a road trip, one sees something weird about an RV. Despite his best intentions, this is not an anthology of best laid plans, is it? Summers With Annie by Greg Sisco – This story was sad but also really creepy. I love movies, though I don’t get to watch them as much anymore since having kids. The idea that a movie could be predatory is one hard to brush off. There is so much responsibility on the shoulders of the theater owner, who figured out something is wrong with the movie, but can’t just stop playing it. And I have fallen asleep once or twice in a movie theater, I couldn’t imagine the panic of waking up, and the person there with me being just gone. Expertise by Asher Ellis – I am not a big fan of the water, I always believe there is something out to get us. This story did not help with that fear. I felt that I learned a little about the behaviors of barracudas, but it made me not to go in the water even more. Unkindly Girls by Hailey Piper – I could not imagine having a father that creepy! That was the overshadowing thought for me through the whole story, what would I have done in her shoes? The guilt and fear from having a parent that would judge someone unkindly in such a final way? Deep in the Heart by Waylon Jordan – I grew up in Texas, so I was pretty excited to see this one’s location. I remember taking school trips to a cavern system, but I don’t remember the name. I do, however, remember there being a whole lot of nothing scary happening, while this story cannot claim the same. I wonder how many of us could sit in complete darkness after finishing this story. Peelings by Kenzie Jennings – So does this answer the question, what does the happiest place in the world run on? Or does it just give a select few a way to escape? This was an odd vacation gone wrong, but maybe in the end it went right for the one who mattered? I’m still not sure how I feel about this one… The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators by Malcom Mills – Out of all the short stories, this one was the hardest for me to follow. People dressing up as their favorite reptile at Gator-Con and having tons of group sex and drinking, I got that part fine. Terry becomes concerned with Glen, sees a woman he thinks saw Glen last but the story breaks into past memories and current happenings, and I got lost. By the end I was not sure if Glen and Terry were different people. I still found the story interesting, but felt a little frustrated by my confusion. The Cucuy of Cancun by V. Castro - This was the happy story for me, though I don’t think that was the author’s intention. This creature that is older than anything we could imagine hunts tourists at a resort in Cancun. She has become comfortable with this life, has it all worked out with the staff. It only sucks for those that come under her radar. I found myself cheering for her. Taylor Family Vacation ‘93 by Jeremy Herbert – What can I say about this story without giving spoilers? A man on vacation with his family finds missing time on his camcorder, when he plays it back it shows hard to decipher scenes. This is a gut wrenching story, rip your heart out, kick it across the floor, and then set it on fire story. I loved it, but it was so hard to read. The Penanggalan by Scott Cole - Finding a small black book with information never heard of before reminded me of Laird Barron having a little book that popped up with locations to visit that never ended well. Here the book had a list of supernatural baddies for Southeast Asia, with one entry that was no longer there when you tried to share it with someone. I really enjoyed this one, thought the unique spin well executed. Sex with Dolphins by Chad Stroup – This is a freaky little story, but it has sex and dolphins in the title, so I feel like we were warned. I was left with a lot of questions after reading this, but it was a good short story. My questions are the kind that would be answered with a novel length story, I hope, so I feel this was a successful story. It was more romantic than I expected, given the title, but still, so many questions. Caught a Glimpse by Patrick Lacey – A man takes a working vacation without his wife or toddler twins. He sees a woman in the rental cabin next to him reading with sunglasses on, and no top. No harm, no foul right? Strange things begin to happen, his wife hears voices over his when he calls to check-in. This was almost bittersweet, the guy was only guilty of the story title, he caught a glimpse, but that is enough to turn your world upside down. In the Water by Mark Wheaton – Dead tourists, multiple law enforcement agencies (trying to) work side by side to solve a tangled mystery of who died when and how. The story cuts from the current time: after the deaths, and right before: point of view from two dead American women. I shudder to think of the possibility of something like that happening, it would be something unable to predict, just as presented here. I also liked the quiet introspection and pride in his work exuded by Wichan Pimdee. Good Times in the Bad Lands by Laura Keating – A family holiday, without electronics to occupy the children during the drive, is the opening scene for a story that quickly jumps the rails. I still do not know how to characterize this mind melting, adrenaline laced ending. I guess all I can say is that I think it was the perfect ending to this anthology.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt Holder

    This review is hosted on my blog at https://uponyourmarrowbones.wordpress..., and I've copied it below. I like to think of myself as an adventurous person, but the truth is that everytime I drive into the city and can’t find a parking spot I have a small panic attack. The idea of rolling up to an airport and taking the first available flight to wherever is a nightmare scenario. And no, I don’t want to see where the road takes us, because we’ll probably die, and/or run out of gas, or a tire will e This review is hosted on my blog at https://uponyourmarrowbones.wordpress..., and I've copied it below. I like to think of myself as an adventurous person, but the truth is that everytime I drive into the city and can’t find a parking spot I have a small panic attack. The idea of rolling up to an airport and taking the first available flight to wherever is a nightmare scenario. And no, I don’t want to see where the road takes us, because we’ll probably die, and/or run out of gas, or a tire will explode and we’ll careen off the highway, or the engine will burst into flames, and so on. Stay at home and never leave? Thank you, that sounds great. For me, both the prepping and execution involved in taking a vacation is already a horror story. Which is a roundabout way of saying that Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror struck a particular chord with me. Of course if you actually like vacations, if endless hours of travel and dumping thousands of dollars into a resort gets you excited, then you will also find something to love in Worst Laid Plans. Because there’s some great stuff in here. But tread lightly, because I wouldn’t be surprised if reading Grindhouse Press’s latest release leads to some cancelled plans. Or at least some reconsiderations. Besides, it’s 2020 and there’s a plague. Stay home and read, people. Vacation-themed horror isn’t a particular subgenre that I’m well-versed in. The most immediate example that comes to mind is Jaws, although the main characters themselves aren’t taking a vacation. But there’s lots of tourists. And a beach. Anyway, the more I read the more obvious the appeal. Horror (both of the real-life and fictional varieties) often relies on being vulnerable. We (or our characters) get scared because of a lack of control, and this makes us vulnerable. Thus open to attack, physical or psychological. There’s actually a lot of real-life tragedies that take place around vacations, now that I’m thinking about it. Hikers go missing, people drown, children get eaten by alligators at Disney World. The world is scary and threatening enough when you’re in your own home, so leaving that relative safety for the unknown is a frightening proposition. But at this point I’m repeating myself (as well as similar beats in the anthology’s forward by Sadie Hartman, which is well worth the read, so don’t skip it! — every good anthology has a good introduction/forward, like a comforting horror host beckoning you towards the dark), so onto the tales. Editor Samantha Kolesnick has curated 14 stories of excellent variety, each one having fun with varying aspects of vacationing. The awful road trips, the frequent encounters with strangers, the peculiar yet fascinating communities, the beach, the House of Mouse, the nostalgia of annual visits: all these and more are run through the horror mill to arrive at your hands twisted and carved. We have monsters, body horror, serial killers, haunted films, scary fish, you name it. So whatever your taste or preference for horror, chances are that there’s a story in here for you. And what’s more, chances are even higher that you’ll find yourself relating to these stories. We’ve all been on the terrible road trip, so as the dad speeds toward disaster in Laura Keating’s “Good Times in the Bad Lands,” we get it. I mean I’d probably do the same. We’ve all imagined the fantasy of escaping this reality for another, so as Beth’s life starts to take a distinctly surreal turn in Kenzie Jennings “Peelings,” we understand her decision. Ever been in a cave and experienced the icy chill of complete and total darkness? Perhaps wondered if something else was there with you? Waylon Jordan’s “Deep in the Heart” has got you covered. And I certainly know we’ve all wondered what kinky alligator/crocodile sex is like, so have no fear, those adventures are well represented by Malcolm Mills in “The Difference Between Alligators and Crocodiles.” Variety is the great strength of the anthology, knowing that from one story to the next you’re in for a unique experience, so kudos and thanks to Kolesnick and co. for making Worst Laid Plans the best type of horror cornucopia. As with every anthology, you’re likely to find some stories that don’t work for you or don’t land particularly well, but that’s okay, it just means you have a type of personal taste and discernment based in previous reading experience (of course this doesn’t mean the taste is good [whatever that means] or the discernment practiced, but simply that it exists — for more on this topic see David Hume’s 1757 all-timer “Of the Standard of Taste,” but don’t expect to like it — anyway I digress). I would say that each story is good, with a few that are great, and one or two that I’ll be thinking about for a long time and have motivated me to seek out the author’s other work. Things start off strong with “You’ve Been Saved” by S.E. Howard. It’s a road trip bromance story where the bros encounter a suspicious elderly couple and a young woman who just might be more than they seem. The piece clips along, and the relationship stuff between our two bros is quippy and fun, and there’s some great pay-off involving picking a lock that I enjoyed. But the real star here is the story’s ending. I mean we know something’s going to go wrong (it’s a horror story, after all), but just when you think you’ve seen it before Howard delivers a chilling, gore-soaked finish that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. Of all the stories, this is the one that made me want to immediately know what happens next. It’s a smart choice to kick the anthology off. I’d love to go into detail for each story, but one of the thrills of an anthology is the surprise and anticipation you feel going into every piece. And I don’t want to spoil all the fun. But I have to mention some of my favorites, those stories that gripped me from the first line and held on until the last. The aforementioned “The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators” by Malcolm Mills and “Sex with Dolphins” by Chad Stroup are two stories that take a deep dive into the surreal realm of aquatic horror, with a healthy dose of sex and body horror for good measure. There were times where I had to re-read passages, just to make sure I was following, because this stuff gets weird, but in a good way. Both stories are about seduction, about the desperate desire to belong to something bigger than yourself and the types of communities that form on the margins. Despite their similarities, though, each tale is remarkably unique. “Crocodiles and Alligators” becomes a bizarre fable about trauma, belonging, and an inability to believe or access one’s own complicity, while “Sex with Dolphins” is a melancholic, grotesque romance. They’re both well worth the price of admission alone. And then there’s Kenzie Jennings’s “Peelings,” a seemingly straightforward story about a sunburn that’s maybe a bit more than that. It’s a story about Beth and Marc and their twin daughters visiting the happiest place on Earth, where the notion of fantasy begins to spill over into Beth’s reality. But the real horror of “Peelings” isn’t in the fantastic, but in the depth and nuance with which Jennings draws the very real, very recognizable family dynamics. I cringed at Marc’s constant condescension, his overt manipulation of not only his wife but their own children, every subtle act of insurrection strategic and vindictive. It’s a master-class in observation on Jennings’s part, able to capture an abusive relationship to such an extent that you might even need a trigger warning if you’ve ever been the victim of one. So when the crazy stuff starts happening and Beth’s world begins to change in some, uh, interesting ways, we find ourselves sympathizing with the absurdity. Ultimately it’s a story about the ugliness of toxic relationships and the all-consuming pleasure of an escapist fantasy, helping us understand why some people would sacrifice everything for it, because to live in a fantasy is sometimes the only way to escape the real horrors. It’s a beautiful piece, and I will now read anything Jennings publishes. Of course there’s so much more, and you’re sure to find your own personal favorites and discover new voices you hadn’t encountered before. So go check it out. But again, cancel your plans, and please stay home.

  10. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    This was absolutely fantastic — easily one of the most fun horror anthologies I've picked up in ages. RTC! This was absolutely fantastic — easily one of the most fun horror anthologies I've picked up in ages. RTC!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lee-ann

    Well. This collection was as much fun as the Catalina Wine Mixer! 😄😄😄. I read this book a bit ago after getting a digital ARC, and I just had to grab a hard copy for myself. It was full of fun vacation horror and I enjoyed so many of these stories! Here are a few of my favorites that stood out: 𝙔𝙤𝙪’𝙫𝙚 𝘽𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙎𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙙 by 𝒮.𝐸. 𝐻𝑜𝓌𝒶𝓇𝒹- A Winnebago and an elderly couple make a road trip out of this world for friends Chris and Ethan after being passed a note reading ‘help’ by a young girl. Truly Terrifying Well. This collection was as much fun as the Catalina Wine Mixer! 😄😄😄. I read this book a bit ago after getting a digital ARC, and I just had to grab a hard copy for myself. It was full of fun vacation horror and I enjoyed so many of these stories! Here are a few of my favorites that stood out: 𝙔𝙤𝙪’𝙫𝙚 𝘽𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙎𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙙 by 𝒮.𝐸. 𝐻𝑜𝓌𝒶𝓇𝒹- A Winnebago and an elderly couple make a road trip out of this world for friends Chris and Ethan after being passed a note reading ‘help’ by a young girl. Truly Terrifying! 𝙎𝙪𝙢𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙒𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝘼𝙣𝙣𝙞𝙚 by 𝒢𝓇𝑒𝑔 𝒮𝒾𝓈𝒸𝑜- “𝘚𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘳𝘢𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘴 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘴𝘤𝘢𝘳 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘱𝘢𝘴𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘢 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘨𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘺, 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘻𝘦 𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘳𝘰𝘸 𝘪𝘵 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥.” A boy of 5 and his father are at the movie theatre when his father suddenly disappears. when the boy revisits the theatre at an older age, more disappearances happen while watching the same film, and the film is also found to have subtle differences than the previous viewing. Totally eerie! 𝙐𝙣𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙙𝙡𝙮 𝙂𝙞𝙧𝙡𝙨 by 𝐻𝒶𝒾𝓁𝑒𝓎 𝒫𝒾𝓅𝑒𝓇- a father takes his 16 year old daughter on vacation to the beach every year and he is very controlling of what she wears and what she does. His daughter finds out what her dad has been up to and he gets what’s coming to him. This one was so haunting! 𝘿𝙚𝙚𝙥 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙃𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙩 𝒲𝒶𝓎𝓁𝑜𝓃 𝒥𝑜𝓇𝒹𝒶𝓃- A story of a young lad who goes on a cave tour and ends up getting more excitement that he bargained for. Monstrously marvelous! 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝘾𝙪𝙘𝙪𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝘾𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙪𝙣 by 𝒱. 𝒞𝒶𝓈𝓉𝓇𝑜- “𝘈 𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘣𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘯𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘮𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘬𝘶𝘭𝘬𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘬” The Cucuy stalks the spring breakers on vacation and then she takes what she wants. This one was just so beautifully written and the descriptions were just perfection. “𝘉𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘺𝘴 𝘢𝘤𝘳𝘰𝘴𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘮 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘺 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘢 𝘣𝘳𝘰𝘬𝘦𝘯 𝘱𝘪ñ𝘢𝘵𝘢 “ Dark and delicious! There were other stories I quite enjoyed as well which makes this collection better than the average anthology. If your looking for some fun, look no further. I give this collection ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda (spooky.octopus.reads) Turner

    That's it! Vacations are ruined for me now. The ocean will never be the same...seeing an RV driving down the road will certainly warrant a second glance at the drivers...exploring caverns will not go without me looking over my shoulder when I hear creepy noises in the dark corners and crevices....and, I will certainly not be picking up any random books lying around to read. Sometimes anthologies can be difficult to rate, because there are always stories that blow the book out of the water, and th That's it! Vacations are ruined for me now. The ocean will never be the same...seeing an RV driving down the road will certainly warrant a second glance at the drivers...exploring caverns will not go without me looking over my shoulder when I hear creepy noises in the dark corners and crevices....and, I will certainly not be picking up any random books lying around to read. Sometimes anthologies can be difficult to rate, because there are always stories that blow the book out of the water, and then there are stories that stay a little more safe at shore. However, I don't think there was one story I did not enjoy and appreciate in this collection. If I had to choose my top three favorites, these would be it: 🐙 Expertise by: Asher Ellis I'm always drawn to the ocean, so there is no surprise I'd be drawn to this story. I started off the story being scared of the sea life in the water, and then I ended the story with a whole new fear. 🐙The Cucuy of Cancun by: V. Castro Literally the only complaint I had about this one was that I wanted it go continue. I wanted more of the mysterious Cucuy and her feedings. I loved the allure of the Cucuy paired with the shear horror of her deeds. 🐙 Summers with Annie by: Greg Sisco Throughout most of this story I found myself trying it pull pieces together to "solve" what was going on in the theater and on the island. This story left me sad, happy, and just feeling all the feelings. If you're looking for a more "summery" horror collection to read your social distancing summer away with, I would totally recommend you pick this one up! **Thank you to Grindhouse Press and Samantha Kolesnik for providing me with a copy of this collection in exchange for an honest review.**

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex | | findingmontauk1

    For most of my life growing up I had the greatest vacations! It was always such a treat to just hop in the van with my family and drive for hours and hours to our destination. The entire trip had everyone so carefree and positive... just... good times, right?! As an adult, I see movies and read stories and the news about just how some vacations go horribly wrong. And that's scary! You are so out of your element and comfort zone when on vacation and that level of vulnerability is dangerous. WORST For most of my life growing up I had the greatest vacations! It was always such a treat to just hop in the van with my family and drive for hours and hours to our destination. The entire trip had everyone so carefree and positive... just... good times, right?! As an adult, I see movies and read stories and the news about just how some vacations go horribly wrong. And that's scary! You are so out of your element and comfort zone when on vacation and that level of vulnerability is dangerous. WORST LAID PLANS is an anthology of stories that digs deep into just all the scary and awful things that can go wrong on vacations. It has some fantastic authors using their voices to truly knock us off our beach chairs. The diversity in these stories from age, gender, race, culture, and everything else is all crafted together for this perfect mix of vacation terror. And like with many/most anthologies, I got to discover some new authors that I will definitely be checking out more! 4 stars!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marcy Reads on IG

    GREAT collection of short stories, and that means a lot coming from me. I'm not a huge fan of them. They usually tend to leave me only loving 1 or 2, so it's not worth it for me, most of the time. But this one is an exception. Don't know if it's because it's a summery collection, but i'm guessing that has a lot to do with it. There is a little bit of everything for everyone in this collection. You have supernatural elements, monsters, love, loss, and more spooky things. As I stated before, colle GREAT collection of short stories, and that means a lot coming from me. I'm not a huge fan of them. They usually tend to leave me only loving 1 or 2, so it's not worth it for me, most of the time. But this one is an exception. Don't know if it's because it's a summery collection, but i'm guessing that has a lot to do with it. There is a little bit of everything for everyone in this collection. You have supernatural elements, monsters, love, loss, and more spooky things. As I stated before, collections tend to disappoint me but I am happy to report that I enjoyed the majority of these. Of course, they will not ALL be for everyone, but that's ok. Some of my favorites include Peelings, Sex With Dolphins, and Summers With Annie, being my #1. I highly recommend Worst Laid Plans to everyone, even if you're not to fond of collections. I'm sure you will find a few gems in here.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    3.5 stars rounded up to 4 for Goodreads.  Ah vacations. Everyone loves going on a vacation. Getting away from it all. Leaving all your daily responsibilities behind, even if just for a little while. Basking in that well earned rest and relaxation. Heading out to the beach, or going camping, or taking a road trip with the family. But what happens when a vacation becomes your own personal hell? The kids won't quit fighting, your luggage gets lost, that beautiful four star hotel room from online loo 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 for Goodreads.  Ah vacations. Everyone loves going on a vacation. Getting away from it all. Leaving all your daily responsibilities behind, even if just for a little while. Basking in that well earned rest and relaxation. Heading out to the beach, or going camping, or taking a road trip with the family. But what happens when a vacation becomes your own personal hell? The kids won't quit fighting, your luggage gets lost, that beautiful four star hotel room from online looks more like a bed bug infested dumpster fire that Norman Bates wouldn't even set foot into. It couldn't get any worse could it? Oh yes, yes it can get much much worse. Maybe you're driven mad by the sight of unspeakable things or your loved one is eaten alive by a bloodthirsty creature. Sometimes the best of intentions turn out to be the worst laid plans. Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror from Grindhouse Press edited by Samantha Kolesnik is just what it sounds like, vacation stories gone horribly horribly wrong. With an introduction from Mother Horror herself, Sadie Hartmann, who regales us with tales from her childhood vacations and also offers a few wise words of warning for all those travelers out there. We get fourteen stories here and even though they are all vacation themed each story felt unique and different from the others. From the dark and twisted, to creature features, and the downright strangely bizarre (I don't think I'll look at crocodiles or alligators the same way ever again). As with any anthology you'll like some stories more than others and for me the ones collected here ranged from really really good to a few that were just okay. The writing for each entry was great, but I connected with some of the narratives more than others. All of these authors are new to me and a few such as V. Castro, Hailey Piper, and Patrick Lacey I was really excited to read for the first time. My top three stories from the collection. 1. The Cucuy of Cancun by V. Castro. This one draws from Spanish/Portuguese folklore and myth and I really enjoyed those aspects being woven into the tale. Cancun. The perfect vacation destination where a nightmare older than time just wants to get away and take a vacation of its own. 2. You've Been Saved by S.E. Howard. This was the first story in the collection providing a strong start and doing a great job of setting the tone for the rest of the anthology. Two friends on a road trip encounter someone who might need help. Sometimes it's maybe better to look the other way. 3. Taylor Family Vacation '93 by Jeremy Herbert. This one had some creepy vibes for sure. Dad is capturing every moment he can on his camcorder so those memories can be cherished forever, but when he reviews the footage in the mornings it seems like someone, or something has been filming during the nights. Terrifyingly fun tales that run the gambit from nostalgic, to shocking and gory, to somber and poignant. Worst Laid Plans from Grindhouse Press and edited by Samantha Kolesnik is the perfect summer read that will have you looking back on those "bad" vacations and realizing that in the end they weren't as horrible as they could have been. I think I'll stay home this year for vacation, what about you? And if you do decide to travel just remember, what's the worst that could happen… I received an ARC of this book from the editor for review consideration.  Video review: https://youtu.be/9atRSG4zn3g

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brennan LaFaro

    There’s so much to anticipate about this anthology that I just found myself practically tap dancing when it arrived in my inbox. It’s the first anthology from Grindhouse and editor Samantha Kolesnik. Not to mention it’s got a great lineup and a killer, pun very much intended, theme - vacation horror. Kolesnik pulled out all the stops for this one, including an introduction written by Mother Horror herself, Sadie Hartmann. I’m completely onboard with Sadie’s take about going new places, although There’s so much to anticipate about this anthology that I just found myself practically tap dancing when it arrived in my inbox. It’s the first anthology from Grindhouse and editor Samantha Kolesnik. Not to mention it’s got a great lineup and a killer, pun very much intended, theme - vacation horror. Kolesnik pulled out all the stops for this one, including an introduction written by Mother Horror herself, Sadie Hartmann. I’m completely onboard with Sadie’s take about going new places, although maybe for different reasons than the ones the stories here touch on. It’s a nice meaningful touch that got the horror community’s attention right away. No matter how hyped up I get about an anthology, I’m always cautious heading in. After all, short fiction can be so hit or miss. However, the first two stories “You’ve Been Saved” by S.E. Howard and “Summers with Annie” by Greg Sisco alleviated a lot of doubts.  I’m hard pressed to think of another collection where the first two stories both strike me as hard as these two did, particularly Sisco’s story, which is an easy contender for top three in the collection, combining creep factor and nostalgia in an extremely successful manner. “Unkindly Girls” by Hailey Piper and “The Cucuy of Cancun” by V. Castro were probably my most anticipated stories in Worst Laid Plans. Piper’s story hits hard and highlights subtle abuses that build and build to become larger and more pervasive. Like everything she writes, it was a pleasure to read. Castro’s story is quick, nasty and gruesome. It also serves to flip the trope on its head a bit, having the monster go on vacation. “Deep in the Heart” by Waylon Jordan is another story of note that caught my attention for its’ use of sensory deprivation and isolation. The monsters contained within are described beautifully (maybe not the right word) and uniquely. While I don’t want to synopsize every story in the book, there are several others I really enjoyed. Asher Ellis’ provides some non-shark aquatic horror in “Expertise”. “Peelings” by Kenzie Jennings hits us with humane villain wrapped up in body horror. “In the Water” by Mark Wheaton dips its toes into an area of life/horror that makes my skin crawl. Telling you what it is would provide spoilers, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to read and find out. As in any anthology, there were a few stories that were not for me. Unfortunately, it felt like many of the ones I didn’t care for resided in one portion of the book. The stories that didn’t resonate for me were not an affront by any means. Rather, the first six stories built a momentum in my mind that wasn’t entirely sustainable and the back half of the journey had a bit of start and stop feel to it. With some really fantastic anthologies released already in 2020 and some more to come, I believe Worst Laid Plans earns the right to be mentioned alongside the year’s best. If Samantha Kolesnik opts to curate another anthology in the near future, I will be picking it up. I received a digital copy from the publisher for review consideration.

  17. 5 out of 5

    D.K. Hundt

    3.5/5.0 🌟 ’Fourteen horror authors share terrifying and twisted tales of summer vacation gone wrong in WORST LAID PLANS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF VACATION HORROR.’ My Favorites: Kenzie Jennings “Peelings” V. Castro “The Cucuy of Cancun” S.E. Howard “You’ve Been Saved” Greg Sisco “Summers with Annie” Asher Ellis “Expertise” Waylon Jordan “Deep in the Heart” Scott Cole “The Penanggalan” Patrick Lacey “Caught a Glimpse” Hailey Piper ”Unkindly Girls” Thank you, Samantha Kolesnik and Grindhouse Press, for providing me 3.5/5.0 🌟 ’Fourteen horror authors share terrifying and twisted tales of summer vacation gone wrong in WORST LAID PLANS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF VACATION HORROR.’ My Favorites: Kenzie Jennings “Peelings” V. Castro “The Cucuy of Cancun” S.E. Howard “You’ve Been Saved” Greg Sisco “Summers with Annie” Asher Ellis “Expertise” Waylon Jordan “Deep in the Heart” Scott Cole “The Penanggalan” Patrick Lacey “Caught a Glimpse” Hailey Piper ”Unkindly Girls” Thank you, Samantha Kolesnik and Grindhouse Press, for providing me with an advance copy of WORST LAID PLANS in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Samantha Kolesnik edited Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror. As typically happens with multi-author anthologies I ended up giving it a 4 out of 5, because it’s almost impossible for a given editor’s tastes to exactly match a given reader’s tastes. I definitely enjoyed quite a bit of this book, however. S.E. Howard’s “You’ve Been Saved” involves two guys on a road trip, and a young woman who slips one of them a “HELP” note. One of them is determined to believe the girl is just messi Samantha Kolesnik edited Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror. As typically happens with multi-author anthologies I ended up giving it a 4 out of 5, because it’s almost impossible for a given editor’s tastes to exactly match a given reader’s tastes. I definitely enjoyed quite a bit of this book, however. S.E. Howard’s “You’ve Been Saved” involves two guys on a road trip, and a young woman who slips one of them a “HELP” note. One of them is determined to believe the girl is just messing with them, while the other isn’t so sure and starts following the camper the girl got into. This one didn’t go where I was expecting, which was nice! Greg Sisco’s “Summers With Annie” is a bizarre little tale. It involves a boy whose dad went missing while they were watching a movie on vacation, and what happens when he returns to that movie theater. A little bit of fate, a little bit of strange, and some interesting lingering questions. Asher Ellis’s “Expertise” is a great little tale involving a scuba guide, a woman who’s paying him, and some curious barracuda. This is one of my favorites in this volume. Hailey Piper brings us “Unkindly Girls.” Morgan’s father insists she dress modestly even when going swimming on vacation, so that she will never become one of those “unkindly girls” he looks down on so much. She excels at making friends, however, and this time they’ll try to convince her to go a little wild. Chilling! Waylon Jordan wrote “Deep in the Heart,” involving a cavern tour in Texas. Michael is excited to go on the tour, until the screaming starts. This is a fun little tale. Kenzie Jennings’s “Peelings” is both amazing and hard to read. Beth and Marc are on vacation to the happiest place on earth with their twin girls, Sadie and Sylvie. Marc is manipulative and downright mean, and the girls are starting to take after him. When Beth gets a bizarre sunburn and her skin starts to peel away, the tale gets strange. I had trouble reading the parts where Marc was belittling and condescending to Beth, but it was worth it for the rest of the tale. “The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators,” by Malcolm Mills, was a weak point in the anthology for me. It’s too surreal, and some of the narrative is in the first person while some is in the second. I was fine with people cosplaying alligators and crocodiles, but it just got really weird after that. “The Cucuy of Cancun,” by V. Castro, is intriguing. The Cucuy is a bit of a boogeyman, and she’s set her eyes on some vacationing tourists. I love where this one ends up. Jeremy Herbert’s “Taylor Family Vacation ’93” is really powerful. Dan’s precious new video camera keeps getting used by someone overnight, and Dan becomes convinced someone is breaking into their hotel room, after first thinking it must be his and Amy’s son Josh. This one punched me in the gut and is another favorite. Scott Cole’s “The Penanggalan” was too quick, had too little buildup, and had too many unexplained coincidences. It was a nice idea, but not much more than that for me. Chad Stroup’s “Sex With Dolphins” was quite good. Newlyweds Kristy and Daniel went to Hawaii on their honeymoon. A secluded stretch of beach alters their lives forever. I love where this one ended up. Patrick Lacey’s “Caught a Glimpse” introduces us to Alan, who told his wife he was going on a business trip while instead he went for a weekend off in a cottage. The woman next door, who never takes off her sunglasses, intrigues him, until things take a bizarre turn. This is another of my favorites, with a delicious twist to it. Mark Wheaton’s “In the Water” involves a strange series of deaths in Thailand, and the local officer who has to work with the FBI to solve it. I loved the concept, but I ended up feeling like it’s missing a causative detail or two. Laura Keating’s “Good Time in the Bad Lands” is just a fun, quirky, bizarre little side-trip into hilarity blended with horror, and it’s a great note for the anthology to end on. It’s the strangest little tale of cosmic horror, and it’s easy to see why the parents on this vacation go a tad insane. Overall this is a really enjoyable collection, and I recommend it. Content note for some mild gore and sex, as well as some emotional abuse. Original review posted on my blog: http://www.errantdreams.com/2020/08/r...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Audra (ouija.reads)

    Is it just me, or is everyone dreaming about taking a vacation these days? There must be something in the air. . . In any case, this anthology will make you think twice about that trip to the beach or (god forbid) the RV park. There were some stories that I loved in here and some that weren’t quite as effective, but I had a good time with all of the stories—something that can be unusual for anthologies! There is a wide array of different types of stories—monster tales, weird stories, serial kille Is it just me, or is everyone dreaming about taking a vacation these days? There must be something in the air. . . In any case, this anthology will make you think twice about that trip to the beach or (god forbid) the RV park. There were some stories that I loved in here and some that weren’t quite as effective, but I had a good time with all of the stories—something that can be unusual for anthologies! There is a wide array of different types of stories—monster tales, weird stories, serial killers—there’s a little something to scare you off any vacation you might have had in mind. My top three favorite stories were: “You’ve Been Saved” by S. E. Howard This story follows a pair of old friends on a cross-country trip to LA. Along the way, they bump into an older couple in an RV, and one of the boys thinks something isn’t quite right with them. I was completely in for this whole story. I loved the way the friends are set up—you immediately understand their characters. And I’m all about an unlikely villain! The ending is perfection. “The Cucuy of Cancun” by V. Castro This story is about a beautiful woman at the beach who is much, much more than she appears to be—she’s an ancient monster called the cucuy. This story doesn’t beat around the bush. I loved the narration from the cucuy’s perspective and how it holds you captive from start to finish. Plus there are some excellent gory scenes! "Peelings” by Kenzie Jennings This one is from the perspective of a mom who is with her husband and twin daughters at Disney. This story really stuck with me. The mom is trying to keep everything on schedule and keep everyone happy, but she (and the rest of her family) ignores her own happiness. The ending is dark, and I loved that the story is interested in a message beyond just the horror. This is a fun horror collection that is perfect for summer. Especially this summer! You can live vicariously through these vacations . . . or not!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sara Tantlinger

    I had a lot of fun reading this anthology! It really felt like I was on those road trips, beach visits, and other deadly vacation journeys with all of the characters. Kolesnik did a great job with selecting the stories, and I enjoyed the flow of the anthology overall. I want to highlight my top 5 tales! “Unkindly Girls” by Hailey Piper is a grim, wonderfully written story that I flew through and instantly wanted to read again. Piper is fantastic at creating memorable characters in all her works, a I had a lot of fun reading this anthology! It really felt like I was on those road trips, beach visits, and other deadly vacation journeys with all of the characters. Kolesnik did a great job with selecting the stories, and I enjoyed the flow of the anthology overall. I want to highlight my top 5 tales! “Unkindly Girls” by Hailey Piper is a grim, wonderfully written story that I flew through and instantly wanted to read again. Piper is fantastic at creating memorable characters in all her works, and this one was no exception. Dark and moving, definitely a lot to think about with this one -- so good. “Summers with Annie” by Greg Sisco is another really moving story that lingered in my brain long after reading it. I love the whole concept of this tale, and Sisco executes it all in such a gripping, beautiful way. “The Cucuy of Cancun” by V. Castro is a really fun read, dripping with dark humor and a character that I am absolutely in love with. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Castro so far, and she is just dynamite with writing sexy horror that lures you in. “Sex with Dolphins” by Chad Stroup -- I had no idea what to expect going in with this title, but what I got was a gorgeous, poetic story that was beyond captivating. Stroup’s writing is really beautiful, and the imagery in this story is still ringing so clear in my mind as I type this. So, so good. “Good Times in the Bad Lands” by Laura Keating is a perfect ending to the anthology. I laughed so hard at this crazy story, and just adored Keating’s writing style. I definitely need to check out more from this author -- the dark humor is absolute perfection!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    Pretty much every single family vacation I ever had growing up was pure hell. Of course, there were a few bright spots to recall, like a day-trip to Universal Studios where I got to enjoy the Back to the Future ride and had my photo taken with Jaws, or discovering a small city's (and possibly the whole region's) lone comic book store in Nothern Michigan operating out of an old barn in the early 90s where I was able to score the opening issues in the X-Men's Phalanx Covenant crossover and put to Pretty much every single family vacation I ever had growing up was pure hell. Of course, there were a few bright spots to recall, like a day-trip to Universal Studios where I got to enjoy the Back to the Future ride and had my photo taken with Jaws, or discovering a small city's (and possibly the whole region's) lone comic book store in Nothern Michigan operating out of an old barn in the early 90s where I was able to score the opening issues in the X-Men's Phalanx Covenant crossover and put to rest my worries of missing out. Mostly, my parents (or at least my Mom's) idea of a good vacation was to check into a nice hotel and then spend every day shopping at so many of the same stores we had at the mall at home. We went to Miami, where I sat bored out of my mind in Hudsons, which looked exactly like the Hudsons we routinely frequented 1,500 miles north. We went to Chicago, where I sat bored out of my mind inside a Sax Fifth Avenue, which if it weren't in Chicago could have easily passed for the one in Detroit. I grew to loathe our annual summer vacations, and they became the bane of my adolescence. It was hell. I didn't even get abducted by cannibals! Nor did I get to swim with man-eating barracudas, much to my disappointment. Thankfully, I can vicariously live through far superior concepts of vacation horror than what my parents dreamed up all those years ago for me with Worst Laid Plans, an anthology put together by Samantha Kolesnik, author of True Crime. For the most part, this anthology is a winner, but it also didn't quite meet my expectations to the fullest. Having read True Crime earlier this year, a book that gave me all kinds of turbulent emotions and put me through the proverbial wringer, I was expecting Kolesnik's first anthology to have quite a lot more bite to it. I was surprised at just how tame many of these stories were. While a few missed the mark entirely for me (SOP in anthology land), many of the authors I was already familiar with and expected to deliver most certainly delivered, and I got to check out the hellacious itineraries from some new-to-me tour guides into hell. They dreamed up some wonderfully awful vacations! I hadn't read S.E. Howard previously, but her "You've Been Saved" is a fantastic opener. I probably shouldn't have to tell you not to trust old folks in an RV with a HONK IF YOU'VE BEEN SAVED bumper sticker, but Howard does a great job illustrating exactly why this is. The stories from Hailey Piper, Asher Ellis, and Waylon Jordan make for a fun trio, giving us a thematic trilogy centered on the depths of depravity. Ellis kicks us into the deep end of the ocean with "Expertise," while Piper brings us to shore with a beach-based coming of age horror in "Unkindly Girls." Jordan's "Deep in the Heart" leads us into some underground caverns that will leave you rethinking the concept of a tourist trap. I really dug the arrangement of these stories in particular, and Kolesnik smartly lets some of the other stories play off each other with their shared elements and thematic or emotional resonance. The arrangement of an anthology is a fine art, and too often overlooked, but the stories here have a nice ebb and flow to them, and they work together very well. Kenzie Jenning's "Peelings" went into some unexpected directions, so hats off to her! She also created an exceedingly toxic husband and painted a portrait of a fairly dysfunctional family that rings true. V. Castro's "The Cucuy of Cancun" drew me in right from the start with its grisly imaginings of our central figure, the Hispanic boogeyman Cucuy, who looks at the tourists around her and wants to "nuzzle in their heart chambers and soak in their blood. I want to fill this grubby, over-chlorinated pool with their limbs. Their severed heads will float like abandoned inflatable toys. Some of them will have their flesh made into strips of jerky while I slurp on their chilled brain matter like a piña colada. In the morning, I will moisturize my tan skin with their melted down fat because it prevents me from burning beneath the hot Mexican sun." HELL YEAH! I love it! This is a terrific little splatterpunk piece all around, and one of my favorites of the anthology. Speaking of mythical creatures, I've been enthralled by the penanggalan ever since I first encountered it in a short story about it in the Seize the Night anthology a few years ago, so I was quite pleased to see Scott Cole tackle this vampiric figure in “The Penanggalan.” I also really dug Chad Stroup’s “Sex with Dolphins,” the content of which was a far cry from what I was expecting based on that title! I definitely need to find more of Chad’s work. Patrick Lacey, another personal favorite of mine, serves up a cool bit of horror involving the girl vacationing next door in “Caught a Glimpse.” I really dug the concept here, and Lacey layers in a few very well done chills. Worst Laid Plans is, overall, a solid exploration of horrifying vacations that, arriving in the midst of a global pandemic that's curtailed every sensible reader's far-flung travel plans, couldn't have come at a better time. Yeah, we can't head down to Kokomo, but that's OK. Samantha Kolesnik knows where we really want to go to get away from it all, and you'll still get your fix of bodies lying in the sand, with a tropical drink in hand.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aiden Merchant

    I’m funny when it comes to anthologies, especially when they feature a variety of writers. I love reading them - picking out a story here and there over the course of a week - but rarely think they deserve four stars or higher. To get that positive of a reaction from me, I expect at least 75% of the stories to hook me. That’s why most anthologies land around a 3 or 3.5 for me. Worst Laid Plans is one of those collections. There are a few entries here that I really loved, or felt were strong enoug I’m funny when it comes to anthologies, especially when they feature a variety of writers. I love reading them - picking out a story here and there over the course of a week - but rarely think they deserve four stars or higher. To get that positive of a reaction from me, I expect at least 75% of the stories to hook me. That’s why most anthologies land around a 3 or 3.5 for me. Worst Laid Plans is one of those collections. There are a few entries here that I really loved, or felt were strong enough for a thumbs-up. The first story, “You’ve Been Saved” by S. E. Howard, was an exceptional introduction for the anthology. It reminded me of Aaron Dries a little, and took me by surprise with its ending reveal; I really loved the ride. Jumping ahead a bit, my next favorite came with “The Cucuy of Cancun” by V. Castro - I would definitely sign up for a sequel in which we follow the cucuy to Philadelphia for her next feeding. Then there was “In the Water” by Mark Wheaton, which sunk its claws into me so much so that I immediately chased the story with a download of another book by the author. Wheaton did an excellent job with the crime scene sequences, and the idea behind the story was equally unique and intriguing. I also enjoyed Patrick Lacey’s “Caught a Glimpse,” despite its somewhat anticlimactic conclusion. Which brings me to my complaint with this anthology: Multiple stories here felt like they were screwed by word count restrictions. At least half of these stories felt suddenly rushed at one point or another, as if their authors had to go back and make big edits to fit their work into the anthology. I find this a little odd, seeing as the collection is less than 200 pages. It could have easily been 300, and way better for it. “In the Water,” “The Penanggalan,” and “Expertise” were all stories I noted as having this issue. It’s less of a simple “I wanted more,” and more of “this feels like scenes were cut out or down.” Had the stories above been given the space to spread their wings a bit more, I would have definitely enjoyed this collection more. Anthologies are tricky business, because a mix is generally designed for the person putting it together. It’s hard to get a variety of voices together and have them all hit home with your readers. That being said, I feel like Kolesnik did a great job in choosing authors who were skilled writers. Even the stories I didn’t like were still well-written. The anthology's theme is also one I'd like to see more of, so hopefully a second volume comes along soon. I’ll be looking into a couple of these (new-to-me) authors elsewhere, now that I’ve got a taste for them. *I was provided a digital ARC by the editor and publisher for review consideration.* Follow me on www.aidenmerchant.com for reviews, exclusive stories, downloads, and more.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mindi

    This anthology is a lot of fun. Highly recommend.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I was so excited for this collection when I first heard about it, and I snatched it up as soon as it came out. Was it worth it? Definitely. "You've Been Saved" by S.E. Howard starts the collection on a strong note. Chris and his friend, Ethan are taking a road trip to California for a job interview for Chris. While stopped for lunch, Chris is passed a note by a beautiful girl traveling with an elderly couple. The note appears to be written in blood and reads simply, "Help." Chris insists on follo I was so excited for this collection when I first heard about it, and I snatched it up as soon as it came out. Was it worth it? Definitely. "You've Been Saved" by S.E. Howard starts the collection on a strong note. Chris and his friend, Ethan are taking a road trip to California for a job interview for Chris. While stopped for lunch, Chris is passed a note by a beautiful girl traveling with an elderly couple. The note appears to be written in blood and reads simply, "Help." Chris insists on following the old couple's RV, and there are gruesome surprises in store. "Summers With Annie" by Greg Sisco is a melancholy tale about a mysterious film and the impact it has on a man over the course of his life. This one is bittersweet and was one of my favorites in the collection. "Expertise" by Asher Ellis is a fun creature feature about a predatory red barracuda with a taste for humans. This one is brief but entertaining and features a neat, although not altogether unsurprising, twist. "Unkindly Girls" by Hailey Piper was disturbing and although the subject matter wasn't necessarily my cup of tea, this was one of the best written stories in the collection. I have both of Piper's novellas on my to-read shelf and eagerly anticipate reading more of her work. "Deep in the Heart" by Waylon Jordan is a gooey monster tale that reminds me of a more gruesome version of something I would have read as a kid, like in one of those Bruce Coville collections, or a comic book. Kenzie Jennings's "Peelings" concerns Beth, a put-upon mother and her ungrateful family at Disney World. After getting a strange sunburn, Beth discovers that Disney World really is the happiest place on earth, if not for the reasons most think. "The Difference Between Crocodiles and Alligators" by Malcolm Mills is a surreal tale of reptilian fetishists, and I can't say I'm not confused by the turn it took, but it was very well written, and I'd be interested in reading more of Mills work. "The Cucuy of Cancun" by V. Castro was another of my favorites, about a monstrous woman feeding off the tourists at resort. The Cucuy narrates the tale, and I loved her narration. I would love to read more about this creature, who is ultimately more likable than her victims. I've been wanting to read Castro's Hairspray and Switchblades for a while now, and this story convinced me to move it to the top of my to-buy list. "Taylor Family Vacation '93" is another melancholic tale, with an interesting, if devastating twist, even if it was one I ultimately saw coming. Scott Cole's "The Penanggalan" is a brief tale of tourists in Malaysia and one man's obsession with the titular creature. This story was almost too brief, as I could have used more buildup to the climax, but I enjoyed it. "Sex with Dolphins" by Chad Stroup has a pretty exploitative sounding title, and the story lives up to it...to a certain extent. However, it also manages to be a sweet tale of true love, loss, and redemption. "Caught a Glimpse" is by Patrick Lacey, another author whom I've been itching to read. It concerns a man on vacation alone in Martha's Vineyard and the strange woman he meets while there. This one had a couple of really good creepy moments, and I just wish it had been longer, as I could have spent more time in this story. "In the Water" by Mark Wheaton was the last of my three favorites. Wheaton's done some screenwriting (the underrated Friday the 13th remake and the early Kristen Stewart vehicle, The Messengers), and this one reads like it could easily be an episode of the X-Files. Gruesome and suspenseful, I'd love to read more by Wheaton. The collection concludes with "Good Times in the Bad Lands" by Laura Keating, which starts out as a realistic tale of one family's car trip, before veering abruptly into surreal nightmare land territory. Worst Laid Plans is an incredibly solid collection, and I hope Grindhouse Press and/or editor, Samantha Kolesnik puts out more. Bonus points go to this one for the introduction by Sadie Hartman, Goodread's own Mother Horror. There's something here for every horror fan, and I definitely recommend checking it out.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Octavia (ReadsWithDogs)

    The perfect collection of stories to read when there's a pandemic happening and you can't go anywhere because Worst Laid Plans will have you thinking no plans is the way to go. I really enjoyed this collection! All the typical summer vacations are covered (road trip, theme park, exotic location, convention...) and each story had a thrilling twist. There's something for everyone here: gore, grossness, dark humor and even a little smut! My favorite stories involved a creepy folklore creature, possi The perfect collection of stories to read when there's a pandemic happening and you can't go anywhere because Worst Laid Plans will have you thinking no plans is the way to go. I really enjoyed this collection! All the typical summer vacations are covered (road trip, theme park, exotic location, convention...) and each story had a thrilling twist. There's something for everyone here: gore, grossness, dark humor and even a little smut! My favorite stories involved a creepy folklore creature, possible aliens and crocodiles. Definitely enough creepiness to keep me thinking about things and happy to staycation this year! Also, it was nice to see a well balanced group of authors included AKA not just a bunch of white men.👍🏻

  26. 4 out of 5

    Horror Bookworm Reviews

    Horror Bookworm Reviews... Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology Of Vacation Horror edited by Samantha Kolesnik A family takes a good-old fashioned road trip only to have realized they are lost, the only solution is a shortcut these folks will never forget. What seems to be a cry for help turns into a gruesome rescue attempt. On an island a bizarre hunger for flesh results in an investigation which includes a very unusual crime scene. Published by Grindhouse Press, Samantha Kolesnik presents this compi Horror Bookworm Reviews... Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology Of Vacation Horror edited by Samantha Kolesnik A family takes a good-old fashioned road trip only to have realized they are lost, the only solution is a shortcut these folks will never forget. What seems to be a cry for help turns into a gruesome rescue attempt. On an island a bizarre hunger for flesh results in an investigation which includes a very unusual crime scene. Published by Grindhouse Press, Samantha Kolesnik presents this compilation of stories based on vacations gone wrong entitled Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology Of Vacation Horror. Sadie Hartmann sets the tone with an enjoyable foreword that would make the most stable vacationer a paranoid wreck. Anthologies are always interesting to see how each individual writer approaches and executes a running theme. Each of these creators have their own take on nightmare tourism, lurking darkness and monsters that become real. From Kenzie Jennings brilliant portrayal of a normal family on the surface, then revealing a distorted and disturbing truth with a twist. To the way Patrick Lacy lures the reader gradually with unsettling nuances of unearthly sexual voyeurism. These authors have cleverly contributed something authentic and compelling towards their own features. When and if, you decide to take time off from work and enter the doorway to a pleasurable break from everyday living, be sure to read your map carefully. You don’t want to venture into uncharted territories that may result in being your final “end of the road” situation like some of these tales have. For more recommendations please visit https://horrorbookwormreviews.wordpre...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alex Gray (gray__pages)

    4.5 out of 5 stars. Thanks so much to Grindhouse Press and Samantha Kolesnik for providing me with an ARC for review. It’s no secret that Anthologies do not typically work for me. I will find one or two stories that I love (if that) and the rest will just miss the mark. Because of this, I’ve become weary of anthologies and will not seek them out. However......once I heard that Samantha Kolesnik edited an Anthology of vacation horror, it sounded right up my alley and I had to get my hands on it I en 4.5 out of 5 stars. Thanks so much to Grindhouse Press and Samantha Kolesnik for providing me with an ARC for review. It’s no secret that Anthologies do not typically work for me. I will find one or two stories that I love (if that) and the rest will just miss the mark. Because of this, I’ve become weary of anthologies and will not seek them out. However......once I heard that Samantha Kolesnik edited an Anthology of vacation horror, it sounded right up my alley and I had to get my hands on it I enjoyed every single story in this collection. This NEVER happens, people! This is an absolute first in my history of anthologies, which makes me so happy! Each story was unique, with some crazy twists and truly makes me glad I didn’t go far for my vacation. My takeaways from reading Worst Laid Plans: 1. Don’t talk to anyone in an RV 2. Don’t talk to anyone period 3. Don’t go in the water 4. If you find a book on vacation (or anywhere at anytime) don’t even open it 5. You know what, just stay home forever 😂 My favorite stories that really stood out for me were: - You’ve Been Saved by S.E. Howard - Expertise by Asher Ellis - Unkindly Girls by Hailey Piper - Good Times in the Badlands by Laura Keating I also have to give a shoutout to Sadie Hartmann for the wonderful Foreward! This is a great summer horror read. If you enjoy summer horror and anthologies, pick this up! Highly recommend......although it may ruin vacations for you 😉😉

  28. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Amburgey

    I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a dumpster fire of epic proportions. It’s almost the middle of summer and instead of traveling and lounging at the beach, we are staying close to home and masking up whenever venturing out is necessary. Does it stink? Absolutely! Want to feel a little better about it? Read this book. Worst Laid Plans is a collection of 14 tales of vacations gone horribly awry. While not every story is specifically a summer trip – all of them have a distinct summery vibe I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a dumpster fire of epic proportions. It’s almost the middle of summer and instead of traveling and lounging at the beach, we are staying close to home and masking up whenever venturing out is necessary. Does it stink? Absolutely! Want to feel a little better about it? Read this book. Worst Laid Plans is a collection of 14 tales of vacations gone horribly awry. While not every story is specifically a summer trip – all of them have a distinct summery vibe. This anthology runs the gamut from aliens to monsters; from body horror to the supernatural; from grief to human nature at its worst. There is something in this collection for nearly everyone. It’s also worth a mention that Sadie Hartmann, Mother Horror herself, wrote a fantastic forward for this anthology! If you have read my reviews before, multi-author anthologies are rarely a complete win for me. This was absolutely not the case with Worst Laid Plans. While there were a few tales missed the mark for me, there wasn’t one in here that I would rate less than 3 stars. My top picks were just so fantastic that I still feel good about giving this collection a full 5 star rating. Full, spoiler-free review: https://tatteredandbroken.com/2020/07...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Successful Summertime Scares This was a really fun-creepy-strange assortment of summer & vacation adventures and mishaps. What can go wrong does go wrong. The stories vary in character types, points of view, location & era but all fit perfectly in this collection. Highly recommend for those looking for summer scares.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    A truly satisfying horror anthology with a vacation theme. I got serious mid 90’s mom and pop owned rental movie store vibes. That aisle or two holding all the horror vcr movies with exciting covers. Serial killer aliens travelling across the country in a Winnebago. A coming of age story with an evil movie stealing away everyone’s loved ones. Trained fish to eat cougars. Serial killer dad. Disneyland sunburn. Florida man version of furry meet ups. A Cucuy. A classy missing child gets lost on vaca A truly satisfying horror anthology with a vacation theme. I got serious mid 90’s mom and pop owned rental movie store vibes. That aisle or two holding all the horror vcr movies with exciting covers. Serial killer aliens travelling across the country in a Winnebago. A coming of age story with an evil movie stealing away everyone’s loved ones. Trained fish to eat cougars. Serial killer dad. Disneyland sunburn. Florida man version of furry meet ups. A Cucuy. A classy missing child gets lost on vacation story. Malaysian vampire. Inner species erotica with a dolphin creature. Demons. A cruise murder mystery. AND a Griswold road trip story horror style. Loved all of it.

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