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Look 'N Up Invasion

Janice Carr Smith

March 2023 979-8-9875-179

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eBooks on sale now $0.99  Click "Buy Now" for all online retailers. Paperbacks $20.99  

Finalist! 2023 The Wishing Shelf Book Awards (thewsa.co.uk)

           

HONORABLE MENTIONs: NOVEL, SCI-FI/FANTASY & YOUNG ADULT  Royal Dragonfly Award from  Story Monsters Ink   

It's Baput's 12th birthday. The battle begins today.  While fighting the circadian predators that decimate their population every 3 years, the green-skinned royal family of a tiny, primitive world are accidentally transported to the Look’N Up Pomegranate Ranch in present-day California, where they are hired as immigrant farm workers by a particularly empathetic family who were once penniless farm workers themselves, carry a hideous genetic deformity, and believe in the Look ’N Up Way: As the farmer, Elmer, puts it, “It means you pull your head out of wherever you like to tuck it and look around at the people around you. Feel them. Think about them. Consider them. How do these green people feel?”

Warm friendships form as the two families work to understand their vast differences. When they discover that the predators have followed their prey and are hibernating on the Look ‘N Up Ranch waiting to attack Earth, it will take the diverse capabilities of both worlds to defeat them. But can they do it quietly, while the beasts sleep, or will a battle erupt, exposing Earth to the ravenous monsters, and the gentile, green-skinned aliens to a hostile world?

EXCERPT:

NO OTHERWHERE?

JERRY: “There are only about a hundred people in the village. They’re all the same: green skin, brown eyes, and black hair that turns lavender when they get old. No one has ever left and gone away, and no one new has ever come. Not even in the old legends. No different-colored people with strange clothes and customs. Never anyone coming to take them over, or make slaves out of them, or force some religion on them, ever. And that’s why they so don’t get why we have to hide them because of the color of their skin.”

BAPUT tried to meditate, but the things Jerry had told him swam around in his head like sharks that can never be still. Now he understood the iPlane images he’d seen, the people in different places, looking just a little different from one another. He understood it in his brain, but it hadn’t sunk in as a whole, real idea. It hadn’t cast its shape on his known universe and changed it forever. Not yet. The known universe resisted. The idea just wasn’t going to fit in his brain without bending something, maybe everything. A certainty known by his race for three thousand years, forever. There is no otherwhere. There are supposed to be otherwheres in a world. Nauve is not complete.  

VALKO: “Popa, at um, nauve, are there other places besides the village?”  The puzzled look answered Baput’s question. He had worn that look himself, just an hour ago. He knew how it felt. He knew the thoughts that swirled behind it, like leaves picked up by a sudden wind. He knew, now that Popa had been asked that question, he would never be the same.  Baput gave his father a little time to gather those leaves back into a messy pile. Then he asked his second question. “Popa, have you ever heard of other people coming to the village? Different-looking people, like Elmer’s family?”

Valko was on his feet in an instant, his freshly sharpened machete above his head, gleaming blue in the shop lights. His face was a twisted battle snarl, and his eyes stared daggers at some unseen foe, who, from their direction, must have been as tall as he was... His eyes were confused, embarrassed, and deeply frightened, and when they lit on Elmer, a new understanding dawned.


REVIEWS:

 ‘A cleverly plotted mix of fantasy, family drama, and cultural debate. Highly recommended! 


A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review: www.thewsa.co.uk 

When I first saw the cover of this novel by J Smith, I thought it was going to be a typical fantasy. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a bit of magic. But I was still delighted to find it was much more than that. Yes, there are fantasy elements, but it's also a drama, and, most importantly, it looks at a number of cultural and political topics.

In terms of the plot, it's the story of Baput and his family who, upon visiting the Holy Cave, end up being transported to a different planet – Earth. Indeed, they end up on a pomegranate farm in California! Taken in by a family who understands how difficult it can be to be outsiders, they end up exploring many different topics including - and this is directly from the blurb now - religion vs. science; theocracy vs. democracy; women's rights; racism; otherization; castigation and the shocking psychological effects of living in a world with no otherwhere.

I must say, I very much enjoyed the novel. It's in no way a ‘Pow! Pow!’ fantasy adventure, and that is, in many ways, its strength. Character-led and written by an author who's not frightened of having her characters discuss difficult topics...

In LOOK’N UP INVASION, there's fantasy and the ever threat of invading predators, but that's not what it's about. The fantasy is simply a tool for developing a better understanding of empathy and the many other moral topics that pop up in the story. And I, for one, thought it to be enthralling.

Review by Katie Bloomer, Book Trib:

Be prepared for all of your expectations about science fiction and fantasy to be subverted in Janice Carr Smith’s debut novel, Look’N Up Invasion. The cast of heroes is an alien race of pomegranate farmers adapting to — and trying to save — a strange new world.

Very much a character study, Smith’s characters remain humble farmers as their worldviews are changed by the people they meet. This fantasy is at once thrilling and thought-provoking, exploring real-world issues of racism and sexism, religion and theocracy — all while tackling the impending threat of alien monsters.


Every three years, on the first day of the pomegranate harvest, the small, stone-age village of Nauve is attacked by deadly flying creatures: the nimblies and bumblies. 12-year-old Baput — a native Nauvian with their signature green skin and blackish-purple hair — is only three years away from taking over his grandfather’s place as leader. That is, until his grandfather, the Akash, accidentally sends Baput and his family through a portal to another world.

Baput and his family of five — mom, dad, grandpa and uncle, plus the family dog — find themselves on the lush pomegranate fields of the Look’N Up Ranch in California. But instead of facing federal agents with guns, the family is met by the Musiks, who welcome the strange-looking aliens and provide them with shelter and work.

Baput quickly befriends the Musik’s 12-year-old son Jerry. Jerry is a stubborn boy who likes to be right, and when he directly points out how the Nauvian religion contradicts science, Baput’s worldview is shattered. But eventually, after much internal battle, Baput is slowly won over by the young scientist. This, of course, angers the Akash; but the old man continues to weaken on Earth, both physically and mentally, and Baput finds himself questioning his grandpa’s authority and everything his people have been taught. By the end, Baput discovers a deeply rooted secret that blows the Nauvian religion wide open.

Tensions continue to rise when the group discovers some nimblies and bumblies were transported to Earth with them. A race begins to prevent the creatures from awakening before the next three-year cycle. But if they must fight the buzzing creatures, the Nauvians might not be able to make it through the portal and return home. However, they start to question whether or not they really want to go home.

Entertaining and Enlightening

Look’N Up Invasion is a one-of-a-kind story with a unique culture built into it. The Nauvians’ cultural and religious background was thoroughly explained in an entertaining way, often through the family’s tradition of dynamic oral storytelling.

Look’N Up Invasion takes a modern and unique approach to the sci-fi genre as it tackles a complex array of themes, most notably the concepts of empathy amidst cultural diversity. There are clear parallels between the Nauvian family and immigrant workers, especially near the end when issues of hatred and bigotry arise. The Musiks, however, had a very empathetic worldview thanks to their family background. “It was the Look’N Up Way to try and imagine what the other person was feeling.”

Jerry’s mother, Francine, often reminded her family of the Look’N Up Way when interacting with the Nauvian’s more “primitive” culture, especially when it came to their more rigid definitions of gender roles. Smith showed an expert touch in her treatment of womanhood throughout the book; though all the women varied greatly across cultures — some domestic caretakers, others breadwinners — they were all deemed valid and no less worthy of respect.

All the characters in Look’N Up Invasion are thoroughly explored. The Akash is a particularly interesting character; readers witness a powerful leader dwindle into a feeble old man, at once a sort of villain and also a sympathetic character. “He is the past. Let him pass,” Baput thinks to himself. “You must bring the rest of your family into the future.”

Look’N Up Invasion is a fascinating work that is both entertaining and enlightening. Readers will marvel at the unique world-building and complex character developments — and perhaps, walk away with a little more empathy for others.


Star Review by: Aaron Washington,                    Hollywood Book Reviews

Look ‘N Up Invasion is a thrilling book with lots of plot twists, drama, and action. The author transports the reader to a different world; a world where only your survival instincts can save you. In author Janice Carr Smith’s world, every creature is determined to live, and has an uncanny survival instinct so as to continue to exist. I particularly like how the author introduces the major characters to the reader by getting straight into the action.

We are introduced to Baput, an ambitious young man whose future is bright. Baput is meant to take over after his grandfather leaves the throne. Like any ambitious lad, Baput gets to prepare for the future. Being from their village means they are prone to war; battle erupts even before Baput can take over from his grandfather Akash. The shrewd ruler, Akash shields his family from the war by taking them to the holy cave. Here he found an old weapon that may shift some things. The weapon is magical, and Akash’s family soon find themselves in a farm in California. I loved the transition from the cave to California, as the author’s vivid description and detailed narration made the reader visualize the events. California was different, and Baput and Akash had to adjust to the worst.

The storyline flows perfectly, and the reader gets to enjoy each character. Jerry Musik, another heir, is among my favorite characters. Jerry’s family had a gene of deformity, though the young lad was lucky to be spared from the eye defect. I loved it when Jerry’s family and Baput’s family joined forces. The reader could see the similarities and differences between the two families, and how distinctive each character was. The sense of community and belonging displayed by patriarchs of families was incredible. When following individual characters, the reader is able to connect with at least one trait in them. The aggressive characters were interesting as they show how physical strength and wit is critical in everyone’s survival.

Look ‘N Up Invasion was not just a compelling read, but also educational. From the storyline, we get themes such as loyalty, love, family, friendship, diverse cultures, invasions, human rights, the place of women in society, and also religion. I appreciate the author for making religion a huge part if the plot, as it is natural for living beings to subscribe to some faith or god. I also admired the debates which arise from these themes; debates such as what is more powerful between religion and science, what is better between democracy and theocracy, and also the contentious issues like racism.

I recommend Look ‘N Up Invasion to readers who enjoy drama filled thrillers and sci-fi. The sense of humor by the author is out of this world, and the drama incredible. I like that with Janice Carr Smith’s writing, you get to choose your hero and not rely on the author to select heroes and villains for the reader. Most of the main characters have a balance between their strong sides and weaknesses, and that makes them fascinating.

Pacific Book Review by: Christina Avina

It is often said that in order for someone to truly understand what another person is going through, one must be willing to walk a mile in their shoes, or in broader terms, they must be willing to live through life the way the other person has. Only by doing this can someone truly make a judgement call on the importance and value of another’s opinions. In a world such as ours, filled with disconnect and lines drawn in the sand throughout our society, being able to understand one another and leave judgement behind is someone not only to value, but that is needed for our society to move forward.

In author Janice Carr Smith’s Look ’N Up Invasion: An Exercise in Empathy, the author explores this concept through the meeting of two families. When a young twelve-year-old child on a far-off world nears his destiny to become the ruler of their known universe, his world is attacked in the latest 3-year cycle of attacks by deadly creatures who mean his people doom. Leading the boy and their family to a Holy Cave believed to house an ancient weapon, the current leader discovers instead the weapon is a means of transportation, and the family is left stranded on Earth in California. As the family is taken in by another family, Pomegranate farmers and ranch owners, the two families must learn from one another what life is like not only for the other, but tackle important themes before the predators make their way through the portal and attack an unsuspecting Earth.

The author does an amazing job of both world building and character development in this narrative. The mythos surrounding Baput and his people, as well as the dividing line between them and the people of Earth were brilliantly explored in this book, and the imagery in the author’s writing style really allowed this story to thrive and grow. The intensity and drama surrounding the families as their differences begin to grow, and the reality of both mindsets, good and bad, allowed the story to thrive and grow.

This is the perfect read for those who enjoy genre fiction, in particular those that enjoy a young adult, sci-fi and fantasy driven drama that also explores complex moral questions. The themes of this story really became the heart of the novel, as the story tested ideas such as religion vs. science, theocracy vs. democracy, women’s rights, racism and more. The physical threats that the characters face is expertly woven into the moral and psychological trauma that each face as their worlds grow.

At the heart of this book’s core, the story quickly becomes a coming-of-age story that showcases the hardships and struggles that young people, in this case two young boys, must endure and the harsh lessons that life teaches us far too often as we grow. Thought-provoking, thrilling, and entertaining, author Janice Carr Smith’s Look N’ Up Invasion: An Exercise in Empathy is a must-read genre fiction narrative that readers won’t be able to put down. The twists and turns in the narrative, including the shocking ending, will showcase the importance of learning from one another and recognizing our differences while finding new ways to come together united and end the judgement we reserve for those different from us.

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Contact

Look 'N Up Books   email: looknupsmiths@gmail.com

Author Janice Carr Smith says:

Please leave your message below. I'll reply personally. 

If you're finished with Invasion and want more, please ask to be notified when Book 2, Look 'N Up Liberation is finished (should be summer of 2024). I'll send you a free preview pdf. of your choice: Ask for TAMAYA, TRILLELLA or AKIRA, and find out how they're doing.

I’ll put you on my mailing list, but promise not to bombard you with newsletters.

Look 'N Up Liberation

Look 'N Up Liberation Cover Image
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COMING SOON!

In Book 2 of the Look 'N Up Series, readers will experience life in the world with no otherwhere, from the perspectives of the women left behind. In the highest caste, Baput's betrothed, Tamaya, is destined to marry the Akash, the supreme ruler of the tiny world. Now she must settle for the inferior, untrained spare heir. Felsic's family, already the lowest in the village, are now widowed, casting them down to an even lower status.  The mysterious Akira, ruler of the women, works her Breeding Matrix, trying to fill the hole left by the disappearance of the premier family.

Done With Invasion?

Wondering what happened to Baput’s betrothed, Tamaya?

What about Felsic’s family, Peratha and Trillella?

Is Francine right about Akira? If so, what’s it like to be her?  

Find out in Look ‘N Up Liberation coming in summer 2024!

Use the Contact tab to send me a message. Ask to be notified when Liberation is released, and I’ll put you on my mailing list and send you a sneak preview .pdf.  Ask for TAMAYA, TRILLELLA or AKIRA, and find out how they’re doing. 

 Fear not! I promise not to bombard you with newsletters.


The Wasting

Akira sighed a sigh that seemed too old even for her considerable years. No one saw. She was alone in the depths of her underground lair. Alone in the dark. Alone in her knowledge of The Wasting, as she had named it. A tangled mess of multicolored threads hung from the ceiling above her. An ugly knot clotted the center. A few lines spread out toward the sides, with only a couple of threads daring to reach out and touch them, cross them. The breeding matrix hung over Akira’s head like a giant spider web of doom.