Smart Podcast, Trashy Books Podcast

180. Bree and Sarah Squee About Level Up by Cathy Yardley

On a recent Friday Reads post, Bree Bridges noticed that someone was reading Level Up by Cathy Yardley. It was me, and she asked to talk to me when I was done because she was dying to discuss it. I know that feel! So I figured, let’s record a podcast of the two of us squeeing about how much we liked this book. We talk about the book, the heroine, the heroine’s friends, the power of good world building in contemporary romance, and then we squee a lot. We also talk a bit about Bree’s background in programming and working in tech, and the sexism and misogyny one encounters within that industry.

Note: this discussion is a little spoiler-y, so if you want to read the book with no background or insider info, listen to this one after you read it. But go read it. It’s terrific. Trust us. We’ve got 50+ minutes of squee to back us up.

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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

Bree also mentioned BioWare’s Dragon Age, which is horribly addictive and also on sale on many gaming systems.

And in an effort to pronounce “Beul na h-Oidhche” correctly, Sarah used, which is a great pronunciation resource.

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This Episode's Music

NW by NiteworksOur music is provided by Sassy Outwater each week. This is Niteworks, and they compose in a genre Sassy calls “Gaelectronica,” which is my new favorite word.

This track is called, and I hope I didn’t mess up the pronunciation, “Beul na h-Oidhche.”

You can find their album NW at Amazon, iTunes, or wherever you buy your Gaelectronica.

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This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

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  1. 1
    Kate says:

    Ohhhh! “Level Up” is currently free on Amazon!!

  2. 2
    Colleen says:

    Just grabbed “Level Up.” This sounds like just my kind of read.

  3. 3
    Billa says:

    “Level up” is also free on Smashwords.

  4. 4
    Tsuki says:

    Totally one-clicked that sucker. It’s free!

  5. 5
    Jen says:

    I am SOOO glad you guys are talking about Level Up! I reviewed it and just loved it so much. I’ve been trying to convince everyone I know to read it because it deserves a wide audience!

  6. 6
    Shannon Cave says:

    Just thought I would add that I LOVED Hooked (the free novella for signing up for Cathy’s newsletter) even more than Level Up, if that’s possible. It’s Stacy’s story, takes place just about simultaneously with Level Up, and I thought it had more romance than Level Up, but still the great geeky fandom thing going on…and all those supportive characters.

    Disclaimer: I do work with Cathy at Rock Your Writing, but I’d say this anyway, even if I didn’t. Again, it’s free, just like Level Up….just for signing up for the newsletter, so you can’t lose. 🙂

  7. 7
    Tiffany says:

    I’m just going to give the side eye on the M/M romance you mentioned. Any uber conservative university wouldn’t like a dude being a geoarchaeologist any more than they like him being gay. Geoarchs tend to be real insistent on the age of the planet being more than 4 digits long. ( regular archaeologist here, not geoarch, but I work with those guys too)

  8. 8
    SB Sarah says:


    Holy smoke. I never would have thought of that! But I can see how that would be the case, too. Wowser. (Also – your job is WAY cool.)

  9. 9
    Heather Lovatt says:

    What an amazing podcast. Thank you very much. This is the first I’ve heard you both speak.

    I loved the conversations!


  10. 10
    Tiffany says:

    @SB sarah Archaeologists get a lot of flack from certain conservative parties when digging on old sites. The fact that there were people living in Kentucky as early as 9000-12000 years ago really bothers people who believe the earth is 6000 years old. Some Christian universities kind of skirt the issue, like Baylor which doesn’t require its geologists to deny old-earth theory, but many Christian universities skirt the issue by not offering programs where it would be an issue. Generally those schools don’t have any earth sciences or archaeology (which is a branch of anthropology), instead they have Biblical archaeology (which is a whole different thing with different methods and often does NOT use particularly scientific methods). Also there is little anthropology at these schools since the concept of observing other cultures while not preaching to them is a pretty massive rule of anthropology.

  11. 11
    SB Sarah says:

    @Tiffany: I had no idea. That is so interesting! Thank you for explaining – that is completely fascinating.

  12. 12
    Karen says:

    Haven’t had a chance to listen just yet, but since y’all seem like you might be interested, I just finished a book titled “The Only Woman in the Room: Why Science Is Still a Boy’s Club” by Eileen Pollack. Has some terrific insights into the whole subject. The author happens to be around my age and had some very similar experiences in the science/engineering world, both while in college and after. Should be required reading for all science?engineering teachers and professors – maybe some of the foolishness would stop.

  13. 13
    Kim says:

    Thanks for the rec, gals! I’m reading (and loving!) it right now and I’m squeeing like crazy. It’s helping me go through a rough patch actually. Thanks so much <3

  14. 14
    C.U.F. says:

    I had absolutely no business reading this book (I should be studying, dammit!) but I fell face forward into it during my tot’s nap time and, well, that completely happened and it was funny and sweet and *glorious (squee!).*

    But (SPOILER ALERT!!!): I distinctly recall her boss commenting on the Sailor Moon costume when she calls Tessa into her office:
    “Tessa, we need to talk about something,” Jen said, then stopped. “But first, I have to ask: what is that you’re wearing?” “It’s, um, a Sailor Moon costume.” “It’s striking,” Jen deadpanned. “Any particular reason why you’re wearing a Sailor Moon costume?” “Dress for the job you want?” Tessa quipped, then shut her eyes, even though Jen let out a surprised laugh. “I had a bet running with the guys.” “I’m assuming you…” Jen studied her curiously. “Lost?” “Well, yes. Although I sort of won,” Tessa said, then realized Jen was only looking more confused. “I was working on a separate project, a video game, and I needed their help. It was… well, it was for a contest, and it had a pretty gnarly deadline. I told them if they met the deadline, I’d dress up as Sailor Moon.” She gestured to her get-up. “I’m a woman of my word.”

  15. 15
    Rissa Brahm says:

    Great chat to listen to, thanks Sarah and Bree! Just clicked up the book! Such a cute cover and sounds like a great hot-geek read, right up my alley! My hubby and I fell for each other amidst spreadsheets and HTML code (yeah, just dated myself) and had to conquer many of the same issues! Thanks for the rec. ladies!

  16. 16
    Lozza says:

    I just read this and loved it! (Stayed up way too late last night reading both Leveled Up and Hooked Up). Thanks so much for the rec, I don’t think I ever would have heard of it otherwise. I can’t wait for more books about these folks- I’m really intrigued by Rachel and Cressida, and is it awful of me to admit that I kind of want a redemption story for Abraham?

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:

    @Lozza: ME TOO. I want to see him crumble under the weight of his own misogyny when he gets poleaxed by feelings that aren’t pants feelings! CRUMBLE I SAY.

  18. 18
    tbd says:

    Love this episode of the podcast. Please record more like it (where you discuss a book after reading it)! As soon as I heard that you were discussing the book on the podcast, I read the book, and then listened to the episode. So much fun – made me feel like I was a part of a book club. 🙂

  19. 19
    SB Sarah says:

    @tbd: That’s so cool! I will definitely set up more book squee podcasts, no question. Thank you!

  20. 20
    nytsua says:

    @C.U.F I was going to comment to say the exact same thing!

    I read this and loved it, but could not figure out why I felt uncomfortable (I can’t think of a better word…) about it. I think Bree nailed it though. I live this in my day to day life, I’m a senior software engineer and only female coder on the engineering team in our office, and reading about it feels awkward. I read to get away from all that! I did love the characters and how realistic some of it was and would love to read more stories set in that world!

  21. 21
    Elspeth says:

    I loved this book even though I understood almost nothing about the coding/computer games.Possibly because of my zero knowledge or exposure to these fields I had different ideas about some of the scenes that were problematic for Sarah and Bree.

    I felt that the disagreement about Rachel was partly fuelled by Tessa’s insecurity about Adam. “(Rachel)laughed. It sounded like a bell. Because of course it would, Tessa thought, Rachel wasn’t human.” This is not what I would expect Tessa to be feeling about her new friend. Then, more tellingly I believe, we get this sentence in italics “And what’s she doing with Adam?”.

    I am also not convinced that Adam actually SPOKE to Casey’s mother. “He sighed. Then he picked up his phone, dialling. Hello Mrs Sanderson? Hi yeah. It’s Adam. yes it has been a while” Casey then grabs the phone and turns it off. I think that he was calling Casey’s bluff as it seems unlikely that he just KNOWS the mothers phone number to dial it.

    My actual problem with book (other than forcing me to stay up late to read it)is the formatting. I found that it jumped from scene to scene without warning and would have benefitted from asterisks to mark scene breaks.

  22. 22
    Ellen says:

    I read Allyson Lindt’s Love Hashtagged series recently and it’s good.
    Book one is obviously inspired by the GamerGate thing which was a little stressful for me because I was really worried for the heroine’s safety even though I had my romance novel safety blanket.
    Book 2 and 3 move away from it and just stick to women in geek fandom suff.

  23. 23
    Jaime says:

    For anyone who liked “Level Up” you may also like “One Con Glory” by Sarah Kuhn. There’s no sexy scenes, but it is a fun romance novel that takes place at a SFF con. The main story line is between a fan nerd and a TV star trying to get a hold of the same comic book action figure and it’s super cute.

  24. 24
    KB says:

    I am late to the party on this one because I am way behind on podcasts due to epic Harry Potter audiobook marathon, but I just wanted to say–I LOVED this episode and the book! I one-clicked the book when you said you were going to talk about it because it sounded right up my alley, and then today I listened to the rest of the podcast which was so fun. It felt like a book club discussion. You couldn’t hear me but I was totally talking back to you from my car. I used to work in software development so I can attest to the accuracy of some of the portrayals. Like you said, the whole thing just felt so real to me. I am all in for the rest of the series. Thank you for such a fun episode and a great book recommendation!

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