Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)'s Reviews > Vacations from Hell

Vacations from Hell by Libba Bray
Rate this book
Clear rating

Lessons learned from reading this book:

1)Do not go on a cruise for your vacation...There might be vampires aboard.
2)Be aware of childhood rivals that you go on family vacations with...They might be evil witches.
3)Never spend your vacation in the French countryside, and by all means, avoid striking up a conversation with a garrulous Frenchman...It could very well be deadly to you and yours.
4)If you go to Jamaica, avoid the strange house with mirrors on it...Just take my word for it.
5)Never, ever take a backpacking trip through strange European countries with even stranger names like Necratul. Trust me on that!

This turned out to be a very good short story collection. I was kind of worried at how the first story, "Cruisin'", by Sarah Mlynowski, started. I thought, "Crap. This is like the CW teenie-bopper shows I avoid like the plague. Young girls out to get laid, 17 going on 35." I'm glad I kept reading. Just when I was about to give up, it got interesting. I have to admit that she threw me for a loop with the unexpected twist. Nicely played, Ms. Mlynowski. 4 stars.

"I Don't Like Your Girlfriend" by Claudia Gray took an interesting look at childhood rivalries between two girls whose mothers are both initiating them into their lives as witches. Cecily is a by-the-book girl, following all the rules of the Craft faithfully. Kathleen, her nemesis, has no problem breaking one of the first rules of witchcraft, not using your power to influence others. And to make it even worse, she's using it over her sweet boyfriend, Scott, who Cecily has a crush on. Cecily is out to see justice done. This was a pretty good story. Not really a subject I'm that interested in, but it kept my interest. 4 stars.

"The Law of Suspects" by Maureen Johnson struck me as such a well-done story. It starts out so funny in a completely sarcastic way. I was laughing out loud at Charlie's observations of her trip to France. And then, suddenly this story became as creepy as heck! Imagine being stranded in a country where you barely speak the language, and there is a weird French guy telling you an incredibly unsettling story. You know something is Just Not Right about this guy. Then, there's a very cute French guy who shows up. He tells you that you and your sister's lives are in danger. What do you do? What do you do? Man, this was a suspenseful story. I had no idea how it was going to end. Was Gerard telling Charlie the truth? Argh! I was holding my breath! When it ends, there's still this lingering fear. Is it over? What a good story. 5 stars.

"The Mirror House" by Cassandra Clare unnerved me, enthralled and riveted me. Ms. Clare used her prose very skillfully, creating a story that was beautiful and sinister. Despite the sunbleached brightness of the Jamaican beach, there was a dark undertone to everything. Along with Violet, I feared for young Evan. I had no clue initially what the threat was, but when I found out, I really liked the direction that Ms. Clare took. Brimming with atmosphere and intensity, this was a 5 star story for me.

"Nowhere is Safe" by Libba Bray. Man, oh, man. I'd rather have the most boring summer on earth than have the vacation from you know where that this group of friends had. I couldn't believe how scary this story got. Imagine going to a town where the townspeople had a pact with the Devil, sacrificing their children for prosperity for many years. They haven't done that in over one hundred and fifty years. But, some traditions aren't easily forgotten. I loved that the main character was half-Asian. He was subjected to prejudice because of his heritage, but he is heir to a special ability that may very well be the saving of his friends. He's sweet on his best friend, Izzy, whose parents were Haitian refugees, and who understands very well being a stranger in one's own land. Can he and his friends survive the nefarious plans of the villagers on their last Feast before their village is uprooted to build a power plant? Boy, this was not an ideal story to read before bedtime. Although the ending was a bit rushed, I still give it 5 stars for really scaring me, and for the hidden themes of prejudice and identity that I think it handled very well.

I was very happily surprised with this story collection. It was a quick but fulfilling read. I didn't expect these stories to be quite so scary, but it was, and in the best ways! Although this is a young adult collection, I think a lot of older readers would enjoy it too.

Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.

27 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Vacations from Hell.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

March 31, 2009 – Shelved
June 13, 2009 – Shelved as: anthology
June 13, 2009 – Shelved as: fantasy
June 13, 2009 – Shelved as: young-adult
June 13, 2009 – Shelved as: owned-copy
May 28, 2010 – Shelved as: all-things-summer-challenge
July 22, 2010 – Started Reading
July 22, 2010 – Shelved as: horror
July 22, 2010 – Finished Reading
July 23, 2010 – Shelved as: harmful-sensation
July 23, 2010 – Shelved as: vampire
July 23, 2010 – Shelved as: witch-sorcereress-healer
July 23, 2010 – Shelved as: faustian-bargain
July 23, 2010 – Shelved as: asian-hero-or-heroine
July 23, 2010 – Shelved as: black-african-or-aa-heroine
July 23, 2010 – Shelved as: favorites
July 23, 2010 – Shelved as: thriller-suspense

Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish This sounds like it would be such a fun read! I'm adding this to my shelves!

message 2: by new_user (new)

new_user Oh, the other From Hell anthology that I read was one of the best anthologies that I've read, surprisingly for a YA collection. Looks like this one follows that tradition. I'm looking forward to it!

message 3: by AH (new) - added it

AH Sounds like fun! I can't wait to read it.

message 4: by Desperado (last edited Jul 24, 2010 06:22PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Desperado I'm glad to know this book is really good. I've read alot of mediocre anthologies & I'm hoping this is not one of them. I AM a little worried about Cassandra Clare's short, though. She has this very weird fascination with writing novels about pseudo-incest. Great review, Danielle & thanks for sharing!

message 5: by AH (new) - added it

AH I'm reading Dates From Hell right now, but it does not look like it is from the same series. Just finished the first story by Kim Harrison and I liked it.
I did read Prom Nights from Hell, but found that one not so great. Hit and miss with these.

message 6: by new_user (new)

new_user I read the Love is Hell one, if you're interested, AH. :)

message 7: by AH (new) - added it

AH I read that one and I really liked it.

message 8: by Miss Kim (new) - added it

Miss Kim Great review, D! I'm adding...

message 9: by K. (new)

K. Danielle: Loved your review (so entertaining - especially your opening "warnings" - LOL!). I don't know if this is my kind of book ... but you've got me thinking I should try it! :D

message 10: by Monique (new) - added it

Monique Thank u for this review...I wasn't sure about this book back when it was first released...I was worried that it would be too teeny bopper for me even though I love ya books, but, you have changed my mind so thank you again:)

message 11: by new_user (new)

new_user I actually found the anthology I read to be the least teeny-bopper of the YA reading I've done, probably the most palatable YA. It read more like complete, almost literary short stories than the rushed novellas I'm used to reading in anthologies from PNR authors, LOL.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, girls. I admit, I love a chilling/thrilling read, and these stories do a great job. I enjoyed this so much more than I anticipated. LL, I had never read Cassandra Clare until this one, and I think she's a good writer. I don't consider steps siblings as incest, but I guess it's toeing the line, depending on each person's feelings on that subject. Personally, I think Violet's relationship with Evan is more legitimate than the marriage between their parents. Evan's dad was not a nice man and not a good husband or father. So it was okay with it. I suggest giving it a read.

The first story had me worried, but this is a very good anthology. Well-written and enjoyable. The stories don't insult the readers intelligence, which is something that is done by non-teen books as well as teen-oriented literature. It's worth reading, in my opinion.

message 13: by Rita (new) - added it

Rita Webb I love Libba Bray's books. I should check this out.

message 14: by Tammy (new) - added it

Tammy Walton Grant Nice review, Danielle, I don't usually read YA, but I'm thinking I'd like to read this one!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Tammy. The first two stories are more teeny, but the last three really exceeded my expectations.

Rita, this was my first Libba Bray. I liked her story. It was a lot more intense than I was expecting.

message 16: by Brylit (new)

Brylit This sounds as fascinating as the werewolves anthology I just finished, and I want to read this one too.
Boy you can really give some very good reviews.
Your choices for anthologies are very respectable as well. Thanks,

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks! You should read it, Brylit.

Susan I'm going to add this one to my wish list. Hope I can get it this summer because of the 'vacation' theme which seems to run through all the stories. Nothing like a good, creepy read on those hot, humid summer days!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) This is a good one for a creepy read.

Carolyn F. I've just ordered this from the library. Great review!

message 21: by Brylit (new)

Brylit I enjoyed two of the stories very much. The Law of suspects and Nowhere is Safe. Brylit

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Carolyn. Those were my two favorite stories, Brylit.

back to top