Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Title:       Kids These Days [Luna East Arts Academy, Volume 1]
Author:   Chrissie Peria, Mina V. Esguerra, Ronald S. Lim, Athena Claire Duenas, Miles Tan
               M. Protacio-De Guzman, Kristel S. Villar, Alyssa Ashley Lucas, Addie Lynn Co, Anne Plaza
               Jen C. SuguitanD. R. Lee, Jayen San Diego, and Stella Torres
Rating:   ★★★
Availability: Paperback order form

When I first heard about the Luna East Arts Academy anthology, I was super excited. I felt like it was a Sweet Valley book all over again--but this time, taking place in the Philippines AND each story is written by a Filipino. I thought maybe I could relate to the stories more. Also, maybe I wouldn't feel so envious that I wasn't, you know, blonde, blue-eyed, and can eat anything and still maintain that sun-kissed slim bod that the Wakefield twins flaunt in our fatty faces.

Well, I was right...and I was wrong. I was right because I didn't feel so envious because the characters are people you might recognize in your school. I was wrong because I felt envious that these are experiences I wish my high school had! And oh, I wish Luna East Arts Academy was real.

The stories from LUNA EAST ARTS ACADEMY are about love. And also, friends, food, kissing, rumors, mean people, insecurities, birthdays, breakups, making up. We set it in an arts academy because we wanted everyone to have a talent, and know it. Because no one is ordinary, if you know them well enough.

Who are you, at LUNA EAST? Are you a popular kid, a wallflower, a drama club diva, a debate whiz? Visit lunaeastacademy.org to read more stories from #LUNAEAST, and submit your own. For readers 16 and up.

My high school was pretty ordinary, so I was envious at the numerous activities offered in Luna East. We didn't have a swim team (much less a swimming pool), we didn't have a football team, and we were so not allowed to have a kissing booth. Darn. Plus, I went to an all girls' school, and now that I've read this compilation, I definitely feel like I missed out on 'em boys interesting experiences.

Art by Jonnalyn Cabigting
for Where Do We Go
From Here
The stories compiled in this anthology are pretty much what you experience in (other) schools, though, and I was able to relate to some them. You might find yourself in any of these stories--from the one who never felt enough even though she keeps trying her best, to the one who had to diet everyday, to the one whose heart was broken by that jerk who never cared, to the one whose life has been thrown off track by a vicious gossip, to the one whose life turned a little better because of a boy, or a girl.

With the different voices of each author, I felt like I was really reading the stories of the Luna East students themselves. In an anthology with these many shorts combined, I think it's impossible not to have a favorite one or five. These are the ones that made me excited, or got me laughing, or left me smiling long after I closed the book. I have to give extra props to Mina Esguerra because I think the stories she chose to be the first and the last were very apt.

Kids These Days starts off with Sitting in a Tree. I think it sets the tone and lets the reader know that you can expect a lot of feelings, maybe even mucho kilig, depending on the story you can relate to. This one, I can't relate to, but I truly wished we had that in high school. Excellent writing by Chrissie Peria.

Art by Robert Wong for
Senpai's #1 Fan.
This is followed by Fifty-Two Weeks by Mina V. Esguerra. Amazing. In what, less than five pages, she's got me agonizing for more of that sexy banter. It was so hot, I totally forgot that these kids were still in high school. Man, I really missed out on a lot, huh? This makes me think that if I have a child, co-ed all the way for him/her!

I liked Picture Me Naked by D. R. Lee because, well, the girl was adorably cheek. And I'm not saying I've done the same thing, but, well, let's just say I had a few chuckles over that one. The banter was good--no sudden proclamations of love, but the inkling of something more, something that could maybe happen, and I'm happy she left it at that.

Senpai's #1 Fan by Anne Plaza is a little different from the other stories. The male crush interest is different from the others because it's a high school guy who cosplays and has this secret tender side. But of course, there's that issue of being cool and keeping these adorable side of him hidden. The story ends abruptly, but it reminded me instead of that guy you liked so much but you know you'll never have him anyway so you're already satisfied with all these kilig encounters. Or maybe that's just me. I had too many crushes in college.

Art by Richard Cy for
Be Creative.
Be Creative by Stella Torres sets itself apart from the other thirteen stories in that it's not romance. Oh, there's love, but it's more familial than anything else. I think the mother-father resolution was a little sudden but it still made me feel good in the end. I appreciate that someone wrote a story for the anthology that didn't revolve about the budding crush/friend/nemesis-turned-boyfriend story that populated the anthology for the most part.

I also have to give props to Yours is The First Face I Saw by Ron Lim and The Letter by M. Protacio-De Guzman for their inclusion of gay (or am I gay) stories because I think gays need to know they are not alone in their confusion, and the inclusion of these stories in literature is important. But aside from being one of the few gay-themed stories in Philippine pop lit, I think these two stories depicted the most about the confusion and inner battle of identity that high school students/teenagers go through, which the other tales did not fully convey. Lastly, I give props to Miles Tan for breaking my heart with Something Real. That was good.

Art by YK Marquez for
The Rumor About Me.
There were times I totally forgot these were high school kids. I know kids can be really catty and mean (the things I went through in high school put all these stories to shame) but some were very adult, and reminded me of my college classmates instead. Furthermore, I went to a college who had scholarship kids who worked in various offices around campus, so instead of remembering my high school life, I remembered my campus, classes, and 'em heartbreaking boys all over again. But instead of feeling morose by all the memories, I actually laughed.

I also liked that the lives of the characters were somehow interrelated, and that the activities depicted in the stories made the Luna East Arts Academy School come alive. I think that's the trick, you know? The whole school felt real. The characters were alive in my mind, and the stories were not too outlandish that I think a lot of teens, especially in high school, will enjoy the stories and might even go, "Hey, that's me!"

If you're interested to get a copy and spend an afternoon laughing, or heck even wiping a few of those tears away, grab your copy through the order form linked above. Or you can attend the Luna East book launch on November 8, where you can grab a copy of your book and meet the authors and maybe have your book signed? :) I think this Luna East Arts Academy anthology is a fantastic project by these authors, and I'm already excited for Volume 2. :)

About the Authors

Chrissie Peria is the author of All’s Fair in Blog and War, a contemporary romance novella featuring feuding travel bloggers in Macau. When not writing, she serves her tiny overlord Miffy and Miffy’s poodle/minion, Cooper. She also enjoys cooking, taking photos and playing with dolls. Chrissie is currently working on a contemporary YA romance featuring books and boys who like books.

Mina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance, young adult, and new adult novellas. Her YA fantasy trilogy Interim Goddess of Love is about gods of Philippine mythology, in college. Through her blog Publishing in Pajamas (minavesguerra.com), she documents her experiments in publishing.

Ronald S. Lim has been writing for a newspaper for almost a decade now, but he’s been writing stories for much longer. He is co-author of the book 60 Minutes: Interview with People Who Inspire. He has more books than he has clothes.

Nurse by profession, educator at heart, Athena Claire Duenas has been a bookworm for as long as she can remember. Her passion for reading started when she “met” Archie Andrews in a store at the airport. Aside from reading, she enjoys writing short stories and reviews at thebookjunkie.weebly.com, playing the keyboard, and just cuddling with her dog, Frou-Frou.

Miles Tan likes inhabiting imaginary worlds, from fantasy books to sci-fi shows to cheeky mysteries to role-playing games. Her contemporary romance novella, Finding X, is available on Amazon.

M. Protacio-De Guzman works in the field of HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health. His poems and stories have been published in The Philippines Free Press, Sunday Inquirer Magazine, and The Philippines Graphic Magazine. He has also been anthologized in Ladlad 3: An anthology of gay writing in the Philippines edited by J. Neil Garcia and Danton Remoto. He also has ebooks available in Amazon and Smashwords, among others. 

Writing has always been Kristel S. Villar’s first love, but it was only in her late 20s when she re-discovered her passion for writing fiction. When she is not busy daydreaming of story plots, she covers sporting events for a national broadsheet and takes care of her husband and son. She is addicted to coffee. 

Alyssa Ashley Lucas gets her writing inspiration from the peaceful and beautiful scenery of her beloved hometown down south of the metro. She grew up together with Harry Potter and the Sweet Valley twins. She loves to read YA, detective stories, romance novels, classic novels, or any book that comes her way. She has always dreamed of becoming a writer.

Addie grew up reading Sweet Valley University and Nancy Drew mysteries. She finished a degree in Communication Arts and really wanted to pursue a career in filmmaking, but due to high production costs, she opted to tell her stories through her novels. Being the hopeless romantic that she is, she will stop at nothing to share her passion with everyone and hopes that she could infect others with it. She’s a daydreamer by day and an author by night. She has released her first book Hello: A Trilogy.

Anne Plaza has a degree in Psychology, but has actively pursued a career in writing in her previous work as a reporter and online editor. She currently works in the field of marketing communications and spends most of her time writing fiction (while not on the lookout for the nearest cupcake and cronut store).  Aside from writing, she loves to read contemporary romance, young adult, fantasy, and historical fiction. She also collects stamps and postcards, and loves everything about cats. Anne is based in Quezon City, Philippines.  

Jen C. Suguitan is a PR practitioner by day and a storyteller/ninja by night. Her love affair with words and letters was too strong that not even her differently-wired brain can actually stop her. She has written for different publications including a national broadsheet prior to diving into the PR industry. When she’s not writing, she’s probably thinking of what to write about next.

D. R. Lee is a law student hailing from the Philippines. Outside of her academic endeavor, she does writing, painting, and a whole lot of reading. On a perfect day, she talks with the people inside her head and tells their stories through printed words. You can reach her by email at: drlee.peacelovebacon@gmail.com.

Jayen San Diego likes to share her imaginary world through writing. She is the author of Just A Little Rain, one of the novels produced during #romanceclass. She is a news archivist by day, fiction writer by night, and a self-confessed fangirl in between. Read about her thoughts about life, love, and writing at jayensandiego.blogspot.com.

Stella Torres graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a bachelor’s degree in English literature with a concentration on creative writing. She also worked briefly in public relations and earned her master’s degree in special education before moving back to the Philippines. Stella is currently taking up her PhD in education at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. She writes novels, short stories, and unproduced screenplays when not establishing correlations between test scores.

**Quickstop Tuesdays is a feature in My Book Musings where I review books/comic books/graphic novels that have less than 200 pages, on Tuesdays. I consider Kids These Days as a Quickstop Tuesdays material because each story in the anthology is less than 200 pages. **


  1. This sounds like such a great anthology. I love what you said about it feeling like a real world where all the characters interact and everything fits together nicely. Very lovely and detailed review! Jaclyn @ JC's Book Haven.

    1. Aw thanks Jaclyn! It is a great anthology. Have a nice day :)

  2. How fun! Don't despair, I think most of us went to normal high schools. It's the preppy ones that had those stuff mentioned in some of the stories. Sill, this books sounds like a lot of fun!

  3. Excellent Article. I am sure this will help our Kids for Next Gen. Please look into the kids specific domain kidsvedas.com


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