Welcome to my tour stop for Level Up by Cathy Yardley. This is a romantic comedy and the tour runs January 4-22 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. You can check out the tour schedule here. The book is available in ebook formats worldwide.
Title: Level Up
Author: Cathy Yardley
Release Date: January 2016
Length: 151 pages
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon
“Geeky introvert Tessa Rodriguez will do whatever it takes to get promoted to video game engineer– including create a fandom-based video game in just three weeks. The only problem is, she can’t do it alone. Now, she needs to strong-arm, cajole, and otherwise socialize with her video game coworkers, especially her roommate, Adam, who’s always been strictly business with her. The more they work together, though, the closer they get…
Adam London has always thought of his roomie Tessa as “one of the guys” until he agreed to help her with this crazy project. Now, he’s thinking of her all the time… and certainly as something more than just a roommate! But his last girlfriend broke up with him to follow her ambitions, and he knows that Tessa is obsessed with getting ahead in the video game world.Going from friends to something more is one hell of a challenge. Can Tessa and Adam level up their relationship to love?”
***** Guest Post *****
The 7 Stages of Fangirl Syndrome
According to the Urban Dictionary, a fangirl is: “a rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character of an actor… have been known to glomp, grope, and tackle when encountering said obsessions.”
Alas, this probably describes me.
I’m a fandom fan. While I would never “glomp, grope, and tackle” anyone (what is “glomp” anyway?) I definitely find myself obsessed with certain shows, movies, and books. What’s worse, fandoms are often a gateway drug: you might start out watching Supernatural, then transfer to Sherlock, only to find yourself suddenly watching Doctor Who and Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. There are fandoms for Marvel, Disney, and of course Star Wars. It’s a sickness, but frankly, I don’t want the cure.
That said, if you’ve managed to avoid falling into a fandom, here’s a brief overview of what happens when fondness turns to mania – call them warning signs.
Stage 1: B.F. (Before Fandom)
You live your life in a (relatively) normal manner. You may socialize occasionally. You go to work, school, interact with others. Life isn’t terribly exciting, but it isn’t bad.
Stage 2: Exposure
Here’s where the trouble begins. You might have a vague awareness of a show, book, or movie. Slowly, there’s an insidious seep into your consciousness. You seem to see references to the thing everywhere. You start to experience a mild FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. The final blow: one of your friends, who is already deep in her fangirl sickness, hammers at you relentlessly. “You haven’t seen this? Oh my God, you HAVE to see this. Go watch it/read it/devour it NOW!”) Finally, you give in. Might as well see what all the fuss is about, right?
Famous last words.
Stage 3: “Hey, this is pretty good…”
Like a blind date, where you’ve heard a lot about someone but you’ve never actually met, you have hopes that the thing lives up to the hype, even as you steel yourself for disappointment. When it starts to prove itself, the overwhelming emotion is relief… followed quickly by curiosity.
It really isn’t bad, you think happily.
In fact, it’s good.
Pretty darned good.
Stage 4: “OH. MY. GOD.”
This is more than pretty darned good. This is sensational. Where has this been all your life? What have you been doing when you could’ve been experiencing this? Why didn’t you start watching/reading/enjoying sooner?
Now Is not the time for moderation. This is full-scale binge time. Four seasons in a week? Sure!
Nine book series? Looks like there’s a lot of pizza ordering in your future. Who has time to cook?
Sleep? Sleep is for the weak! You can sleep when you’re dead!
This fandom needs you! Fire up the Serenity, grab some salt, load up John Watson and Daryl Dixon and let’s get going! Allons-y!
Stage 5: Research! All! The Things!
You’re getting to the end of your binge. Now, it’s not enough to read all of the books, or watch all of the episodes or movies. You need to see if movies are being made of the books, or if comics are being made of the series, or whatever. You Google interviews with the actors you now know by name who are portraying your favorite characters. You check out fan forums that are discussing the latest conspiracy theories for the sequel that is two years in the works. You check out fan art, memes, and behind-the-scenes-footage. You check out videos from fan convention. You scour the internet.
Stage 6: Withdrawal
After a certain point, the material is simply petering out. The last book in the series comes out, or won’t be out for years (if ever.) The movies have stopped. The show is on hiatus, or even (gasp!) cancelled.
You re-read the same interviews forty times, like a pauper licking at the crumbs on his plate. You may even dip into fan fiction. You mourn the end of an era.
Stage 7: Contagion
There is only one way to recapture the magic. You need to get a new person interested in your fandom… watch them fall down the rabbit hole, fall in love, and become just as obsessed with you. (This is where your friend was when you were in Stage 2.) It’s the next best thing to experiencing it again for the first time.
It’s too late for me. Save yourself…
If you aren’t part of a fandom, it might not be too late. You can avoid the craziness, keep what’s left of your sanity, your free time, and your mental bandwidth.
But for the rest of you, the fans, the ones who have already succumbed and now go through the cycle…
Isn’t it great?
***** Review *****
Tessa is a woman working in a male-dominated field: gaming. She is simply an audio girl, but has the capability to be a video game engineer. She has worked extremely hard, and knows she deserves an upcoming slot on the team at her company. The only problem is the head engineer, who is known to run off potential candidates. Tess doesn’t stand a chance if she doesn’t become more personable.
Her roommate, Adam, is the project manager of the engineering team, and is strong-armed by Tessa to help her out. After a round of advice leads Tessa to crash and burn, Adam takes it upon himself to help her himself. While Tessa befriends a new temp girl at work – and her crew of girls – Tessa finds a cause that allows her to showcase her engineering talents and desperately help her new friends, but a short deadline requires Tessa to socialize at work and seek help from the engineering team.
Meanwhile, the entire engineering team has a bet going with work-obsessed Adam that he cannot find a new girlfriend before the next new hire fills the upcoming opening slot on the engineering team. The long hours he’s putting in with Tessa naturally draw them together, and he can’t help but compare her to his ex-(almost)-fiancé.
*There is adult content in the book, as well as this review. Proceed with caution.
Tessa – a mid-20s audio engineer; she is an introvert and painfully and awkwardly antisocial; roommates with Adam; she has her sights set on being a coding engineer
Ani – Tessa’s only friend; she lives far away so they Skype since she lives in Helsinki
Adam – the project manager for the engineering team; owns the house and rents a room to Tessa; propels her to socialize and meet people; still suffering from a bad breakup
Stacy – the company’s temp secretary; introduces Tessa to the crew
Rachel – a university student working as an event planner at the Blue Moon Casino;
Hailey – a tall, rockabilly styled woman who deals blackjack at the Blue Moon Casino
Kyla – a mechanic with a striking resemblance to Marilyn Monroe; she has incredible art talent
Cressida – suffers from agoraphobia; hasn’t left the bookstore since they moved there years ago
*Rachel, Hailey and Cressida are sister who own the local bookstore. The bookstore is suffering and needing a boost in sales and promotions. They also live there, so their home is in jeopardy.
Abraham – head of the engineering team, worshiped for his coding skills, is very hard to get along with
Rodney – relatively nice guy
Fezza – probably Adam’s best friend
José – hits on everybody
“Dude! It’s New Year’s!” José said, nudging Adam from his place on Fezza’s pea-soup green sofa. “We’ve got ten monitors and a large screen set up for an epic twenty-four hour straight marathon, and you’re sitting here dinking away on your laptop?”
Adam didn’t even bother to look up from hsi screen. “Tod you. Got a project,” he said.
“Well then, why didn’t you stay at home?” José whined.
“Talk to Fezza.” Adam took a quick swig of Mountain Dew. “He’s the one who kidnapped me.”
“‘Kidnapped’ is such an ugly word,” Fezza interjected, clicking the keys of his game controller madly. “I prefer ‘forcibly invited.”
“If the shoe fits,” she ground out, “lace up that bitch and wear it!”
“I was just starting to get the hang of it. But you guys can’t keep trying to make me a healer, damn it. That’s sexist.”
“We’re making you a healer because you’re less likely to try killing your teamates, you dork,” Fezza said. “Every time you’re a barbarian, you kill me.”
She smiled, motioning him to come closer. “That’s because you’re an asshole,” she shared in a conspiratorial stage whisper.
The guys hooted.
Highs and Lows
- + Tessa’s Drive. Tessa is a young woman driven to succeed. She doesn’t want to go back home with her tail between her legs. She talks at one point of being very different than her siblings and her mother, and she is setting out to accomplish her dreams. She knows she is basically blackballed in her career field. It is a man’s field, and she is trying to elevate herself in it. It’s not an easy task when it is clearly evident that she’s working with many who are sexist. Regardless, she’s going to prove herself…or go down trying.
- – Adam. At times, Adam is great. At other times, Adam’s a jerk. He is the one who gets Tessa into the mess she winds up in, and basically throws her in the Lion’s Den. Then, he helps her. Toward the latter half of the book, there are several occasions where he has a blow-up moment and storms off. I didn’t like that. I understood it, sort of, but I didn’t like it.
- + The Girls. Lordy, they are a group! They are so interesting and ecclectic, each in their own right and collectively, and from Tessa’s descriptions, they are gorgeous! I can only imagine what Hailey and Kyla look like. At the same time, there was a certain amount of depth to them, but also not a lot, which is understandable given this is the first installment in the series. However, Cressida *never* makes an appearance in the book at all. I was hoping she would toward the end.
- – The Geeks. The guys Adam works with are a bunch of pigs, José especially. They are very sexist, as Tessa points out. I really didn’t like them for the vast majority of the book. I still don’t like Abraham. He’s just a dick.
- + Tessa’s Scene @ The Restaurant. Woman’s got balls! She delivers and blasts this slimeball so eloquently. It was the first time I realized there was more to Tessa than fluff and insecurity. It’s like there is an entire other side of her that doesn’t quite make it’s way all the way out. It also made me wonder if there were a more closely aligned reason for her ballsy speech.
- – The Bookstore. Tessa is working herself into the ground trying to get this project for the bookstore up and going to enter into a contest. It’s a long shot, but it should definitely be a contender for the prize. It seems she hits a roadblock at every turn, which sets the tone for the project. I felt Tessa was fighting a losing game and I didn’t like that feeling at all, not after all she did for the sisters and all her efforts showing The Geeks what she can do.
- + The Code-Off. Yeah, there’s a code-off. And it’s AWESOME!
What was there not to like about this book? There are The Girls and The Geeks, their two leaders, an crazy ex, a code-off, some lucrative job offers, and an almost lawsuit amidst this insane attraction. It’s like, just get together already! Everyone in The Girls and The Geeks would be all for it. Just do it already! That part was so angsty, and you know, the whole project part.
Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip?
BUY! This is a buy you won’t regret.
***** About the Author *****
Cathy Yardley needs to get out more. When not writing, she is probably cruising the Internet, sleeping or watching D-list movies and adding to her unnatural mental store of character-actor trivia. She is a closet fangirl forSupernatural, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and too many others to name. Her family is considering performing an intervention for her addiction to pop culture. Want to read more of her writing? Sign up for her notification list, and get a free novella, Hooked, from the Fandom Hearts series!
Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
***** Giveaway *****
$25 Amazon GC (INT). Ends 1/27/16.
Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 18. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.