Transcript: Kris & Tara’s Christmas Recommendation Extravaganza (QR026)

January 17, 2022

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Tara 0:19
Hello and welcome to a very special holiday edition of Queerly Recommended the podcast that is all about recommending queer books, movies, TV shows, video games and more. I’m Tara. I review queer women’s fiction at Smart Bitches Trashy Books, The Lesbian Review and Lambda Literary.

Kris 0:34
HO HO HO. I’m Kris Bryant. I’m a contemporary romance writer for Bold Strokes Books. And I have about 20 or so books slash novellas under my belt.

Tara 0:46
Don’t you have one that is coming out very soon, and it is available for pre order?

Kris 0:52
I do. It’s called Always. It comes out January 1st at the Bold Strokes Books website. And then I think January 12th at Amazon and all other outlets for books. So… it’s a romance.

Tara 1:06
So if you like Kris, if you feel inclined, go check that out.

Kris 1:10
Please check it out. I think- I promise. I promise tears. I promise you will cry. I’ve already received hate mail, hate-love mail on it from some proofers. And kind of like it makes me like, rub my hands and smile like I did my job.

Tara 1:26
Twirl your little evil mustache.

Kris 1:29
Yes. twirl my mustache handles… handlebars. Yes. So if you’d like to support our show, we have a ko-fi link in the show notes. It’s a site to allow all of our listeners to support us so that we can continue our awesome podcast.

Tara 1:46
Yeah, I mean, you know what, if you’re inclined, if you want to support us through ko-fi, that’s amazing. If you’re not, that’s okay. But if you could tell a friend about the show that would also be amazing so that more people can connect with the queer content that they don’t know how to find. But we also want to give a quick thanks to some of the folks who have recently supported us.

So Chancemoments supported us through ko-fi and they left a note: thanks for a heart wrenching recommendation. But they didn’t say what it was and now I wanna know. Chancemoments, if you’re listening, can you tweert us @queerlyrec or email us at I would love to know which heart wrenching recommendation did it for you. Nancy Jean also supported us with a note: for lovers of ice queen cats and angst bombs. So that one I know what that’s about. Because that’s about The Headmistress which again, I’m still delighted by the ice queen cat. Whose name I think is Wilbur or something like that. I don’t care if it’s- I don’t care if it’s a boy cat, he’s still an ice queen. That’s just- that’s how that is. And Cathy Pegau supported us with a note: truly love Queerly Recommended and the chemistry you two have, not a bribe, I swear. Well, you know what, I can’t be bribed. So that’s good to know. But thank you Cathy.

Kris 3:04
She can’t. She can’t be I tried to bribe her before. It doesn’t work doesn’t work. No.

Tara 3:09
So as I mentioned in the intro, this is a special all Christmas recommendation edition of the show but we also know that the holidays can be really tough for queer people sometimes. Maybe you’re estranged from your family. Maybe you’re not estranged, but your family are not accepting and are pretty terrible. And, you know, maybe the holidays are just tough. So what Kris and I wanted to say and extend out there is if the holidays are tough for you, and you need some love or affirmation. We are absolutely here to be your queer aunties. Can we hug you like the free hugs at Pride? No, obviously not. We’re each in our own places. But we are absolutely here for you. You can email us at You can tweet us ,you can DM us on Facebook or Instagram. We will absolutely respond to let you know that you are loved. You are not alone during the holidays. And we think you’re doing amazing.

Kris 4:13
Right Yes, Christmas is the time of year to show people they’re loved and appreciated. And we are full of it. And we love love. And we love to share and we love people and we love queerness and all things. Yeah.

Tara 4:29
And we love all of you.

Kris 4:30
Yes, for sure. Yes. So today we don’t have any listener questions, but we’ve asked folks about their favorite holiday films and/or books and we did get some suggestions.

Tara 4:42
So we thought we’d share them back with all of you in case you’re looking for even more things to watch your read beyond what we have to share.

Kris 4:51
Right? So my pal Tegan Shepard says: new fav Christmas movie is Single All the Way. —whispers- I’ll talk about later. So much happy, no homophobia. It’s like a Christmas miracle. -whispers- I’ll talk about it later

Tara 5:04
Good. I’m looking forward. And again, Cathy, you know what? I love how much she engages with our show, I think Cathy is our super fan and I love her for it. So Cathy responded with a Muppet Christmas Carol, the original, not the version that cuts the song When Love is Gone. Yes, it’s sad. It’s supposed to be a sad part of his life. And without that song the final reprise makes no sense. I haven’t seen this movie in years. I know. And perhaps we should have shown my kids, but my kids have like a three second attention span and they’re not interested.

Kris 5:44
They will be interested. I love this movie. This is one of my favorites. When it’s on I stop and I watch it. Like there are a handful of Christmassy type movies. And this one- and I love singing with this. I mean, it’s so good. It’s that little what is a little bunny? Like he shows up throughout because he needs- he needs like some he needs food. He needs money. He needs help. And so this little you know, it shows up and and they just slammed the door on his face all the time. And it’s so sad. But it’s such a good- it’s such a good rendition of Christmas Carol. I love it. Absolutely love it. And I’m singing in my head.

Tara 6:21
Is this your favorite Christmas movie?

Kris 6:24
Of all time? No, but it’s top five. For sure. It’s one of those I will watch it, like if it’s on I’m like, “Oooh, yeah, I’m watching it”.

Tara 6:32
What is your favorite?

Kris 6:35
I just did. I love Love Actually.

Tara 6:40
I hate that movie.

Kris 6:40
It’s one of my I know you do, you hate that movie for so many things? I love it because I’m a big huge Liam Neeson fan.

Tara 6:50
Yes. His section is very cute.

Kris 6:53
Right. And I’m a big Laura Linney fan too. So I mean, there’s some some of them- some of the storylines are just stupid. But you know, as time progresses, things become stupider because we become smarter. You know what I mean? And so we look back at movies, and like, “Oh, that’s totally inappropriate. This is bad”.

Tara 7:10
-coughs. You’ve Got Mail.

Kris 7:13
Exactly. You’ve Got Mail, we loved it, y`ou know, 20 years ago, it was the shit. And now it’s like-`

Tara 7:20
Now we think he’s a piece of shit.

Kris 7:24
But at the time, it was like, such a romantic gesture, you know, like, this is, you know, and and that’s it. You know, it’s unfortunate, but we have to, kind of, we don’t have to, we don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to accept it for the time period it was in but at the same time, we do, I think, to say-

Tara 7:42
If you want yeah. If you want to preserve a relationship with it, I mean, that’s like…

Kris 7:46
Right. That’s like friends.

Tara 7:49
It’s like most media past a certain point. I mean, I have tremendous love in my heart for a deeply problematic movie because my grandparents, my grandmother showed it to me when I was a child, and it was my favorite movie when I was six. And it was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers where they’re literally kidnapping women to turn them into their brides. Holy shit. That movies is a problem.

Kris 8:12
This is so great. What do we think about it? Like how often does that happen? There’s like, there was a huge thing on, oh was at General Hospital? It was like a soap opera. Where like the person falls in love with the with the captor…

Tara 8:24
Was that- is that Luke and Laura? Is that their story?

Kris 8:28

Tara 8:28
I was too young.

Kris 8:29
Yeah, I think maybe

Tara 8:30
I mean to be fair-

Kris 8:30
I was too young, too.

Tara 8:31
I was too young for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Kris 8:35
Yeah, I was gonna say that was before my time.

Tara 8:37
Here’s- Well, here’s the weird thing. So because I very much child of the 80s, right like born 1979. And there was no like, awesome Wonder Woman movie at that point for me to watch. There is no Captain Marvel. No Black Widow. No, like, my parents were not Star Wars nerds. So the most badass woman that I got to see in film and TV at that point was Millie from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers because she’s this little teeny tiny peanut of a woman, like me, who is wrangling these gigantic men and getting them to do what she says. What a tangent we’ve been on.

So Alyssa Linn Palmer said that as a kid I loved the Christmas Toy. I actually still like it now. I can’t really think of any specific adult Christmas movie and I don’t like the Hallmark ones.

Kris 9:33
-whispers I’ll talk about that too.

Tara 9:35
We’re going to talk about that too. Do you want to talk about other two things that came through?

Kris 9:39
Um yes. So Sage says I really love Bryce Oakley’s new one, Making Spirits Bright and the next in the series comes out soon.

Tara 9:48
That’s a real cute title. And kind of makes me want to check it out. I’ve read a couple of Bryce Oakley’s books and really liked them so I might need to go find it.

Kris 9:57
I know and you know what’s so nice is that when you go and you look at Amazon’s listing of like, top 100 Lesfix books, like 80% of them are holiday books. There’s so many out there now. And I think that’s great. I,

Tara 10:12
I..yes, a) love that there are so many. But b) also, I suspect that I am not alone in fully embracing the Christmas cheese this year, like, as much as everybody was like like “2020 is gonna be our year,” or “2021’s gonna be a year 2020 was hard, blah, blah, blah”. 2021 was just more of the fuckery that we had in 2020. And I think we’re all just ready to read about sweet, lovely Christmas love no fuckery-

Kris 10:43
Cookies, right.

Tara 10:44
Yeah, cookies and kissing and all things wonderful.

Kris 10:50
I agree. I agree.

Tara 10:51
So yeah. And then the last one.

Kris 10:56
Oh, hey, I’ll take this one.

Tara 10:57

Kris 10:59
Coffee Achiever. I love The Holiday, which is a great movie. I loved it, too. And I need a women loving women version. Kris Bryant, anyone?

Tara 11:08
Are you gonna write it? Are you gonna do it?

Kris 11:10
I dunno. I can think about it.

Tara 11:12
You could.

Kris 11:13
Maybe? I don’t know, we’ll see. Because I do like to write holiday, holiday movies. You know, I really want to write that. But I really love to write holiday stories. I think you should. Well, it’s hard because you know, my publishing company releases X amount of books X amount of time. And so I have certain slots in the year that I drop a book. And so none of them are around Christmas time. So…

Tara 11:38
Well you did last year?

Kris 11:40
I can’t it was it last year, the year before? I don’t know.

Tara 11:44
What is time?

Kris 11:45
What time is- you’re right.

Tara 11:46
2021 and 2020 are just one year smashed together in my brain.

Kris 11:54
I know it’s so hard. I’m like, “When did you write that?” So I wrote Tinsel- Was it? I think Tinsel was 2019, a little novella The Christmas. Oh, I just did a trailer for it too.

Tara 12:04
Why don’t you tell people about it? Because I think it’s incredibly cute. And I highly endorse it. And I think you should tell people about it.

Kris 12:15
I love the beginning of that. It’s so funny. I love and I can say that because it’s mine. So basically, there is- this is the bad thing. I hardly remember character names. But

Tara 12:29
okay, let’s okay- We’re reading the blurb from Kris’s book Tinsel cuz she can’t remember.

Kris 12:39
Ah, here it is. Breaking up is hard to do. But three weeks before Christmas, it’s even more painful. Jessica Raman isn’t in love with her ex girlfriend anymore. She just hates to emotionally limp through the holidays. When a cute grey kitten shows up at a doorstep, Jessica panics, she doesn’t have time for a pet. Finding sexy veterinarian Dr. Taylor Mitchell intriguing isn’t part of the plan either. But both managed to turn her world upside down. So it’s basically about Jessica who kind of sort of playing with this little kitten that’s outside the window of the coffee shop where her girlfriend’s breaking up with her. And surprise, she goes home, she walks home it’s like three blocks away or whatever. And she walks home and the kittens there. So it’s kind of like a magical kitten.

Tara 13:23
It’s a magical kitten. The only thing that disappointed me in this book is that you gave it the best fucking name.

Kris 13:31
I did.

Tara 13:32
And then changed its name. And I was like, “No, but it’s PERFECT”

Kris 13:35
I know is this is a timeless name that I love so much because if you’re into dystopian books, young adult dystopian books, you will completely appreciate this name. The vet asks Jessica like what’s the name of the cat and so she like freeze it she doesn’t really have a name for it picked out because she’s not going to keep the cat. I mean it’s one of those which is just checking to see if it’s okay if it has a chip. And so she just like blurts out cat Miss evergreen. What could be better? There is no other better name for a cat.

Tara 14:10
Except they renamed the cat later.

Kris 14:13
Yeah, they do. Which is? I don’t know.

Tara 14:19
Ah, that was mostly just me being a smartass. Please don’t confront authors. If you read something and use it like I’m doing this because we’re friends. Yes. I do not have actual beef about it. Please be kind to authors, even if you don’t agree with every choice that they make in a book.

Kris 14:38
Yes, but if you’re friends with me, it’s okay. I can take it but I just- yeah, that is yeah, the cat name. The cat name made that book let’s let’s be real.

Tara 14:48
Oh it cracked me up. It really- Yeah. So, again, Christmas is only a few days away. And we figure we know a lot of you are hopefully, if you’re not off work already for the holidays, hopefully you are wrapping up and about to be off work for the holidays, you probably are looking for some movies, you’re probably looking for some books. So instead of letting you know about whatever else we’ve been reading, or watching or games that I’ve been playing, but like for real come back in January because I got some stuff for you. So instead of that, we decided that we were each going to bring three recommendations. And even though Kris has kind of cheated.

Kris 15:33

Tara 15:34
We have recommendations. So it is nothing but recommendations, which are, frankly, stuff that we’ve been reading and watching lately.

Kris 15:44

Tara 15:44
So Chris, what are you recommending to all these fine folks?

Kris 15:51
So first recommendation I have is Single All the Way, which has had a lot of press in the social media realm. A lot of people talked about it.

Tara 16:04
It has the cutest trailer, I fully intended to watch it before this and then I got a four day migraine. So I have not watched it yet, but I am absolutely watching it within the next week or so. Because it looks adorable.

Kris 16:17
Yes, it is. It’s adorable. So you actually- you’re the one that sent me the link to this. Yep. It was you sent me the link. But and I was disappointed because it wasn’t actually available until 12/2 and you had sent it to me like a couple weeks prior to that. So and of course, you know, time had passed and I’d forgotten and then I saw it blow up on Twitter. So I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s right, the book or the movie’s out”. So here’s the blurb: desperate to avoid his family’s judgement about his perpetual single status Peter convinces his best friend Nick to join him for the holidays, and pretend that they are now in a relationship. So kind of a fauxmance. But I will say this, like it doesn’t go on like that. Like, that’s Peters plan. He’s gonna bring Nick home and pretend that they’re boyfriends because he’s tired of his mother always, you know, trying to get involved in this love life. But it doesn’t last for very long. Like it only lasts for a split second. Because-

Tara 17:19
Oh, and they just get together right away? Or is it one of those “everyone knows they should be together except them”?”

Kris 17:24

Tara 17:26
Fuck I love those.

Kris 17:27
Yes, it’s really, really good. But the mom, you know, she tells Peter, “Hey, I met this guy at our gym. And I think you’ll really like him”. And so she shows a picture. And he’s like, “Yeah, he’s really cute”. And he- or no, it’s vice versa. Oh, that’s what it is. So she shows the guy at the gym a picture of her son, Peter, but she doesn’t get a picture of him to show Peter. So Peter has no idea what this person looks like so and Nick is like, “Yeah, no, like, go ahead, go do this”, you know, because it’s cats out of the bag. They’re not really together. And every single person tells Nick, “Hey, you guys should be together”. The dads like, “I always thought you guys would get together”. And the nieces are like, “We’re going to ship you”. So they’re gonna try to get them together. And so the whole thing is super cute, like, and the first five minutes, I wasn’t sure that I was gonna like it because Peter was too dramatic for me. It was just he was a little over the top, you know, but once he got home, I think the home stead is in New Hampshire, like the middle of nowhere New Hampshire. And his mother greets them and she only wants to be called Christmas Carol during the holidays. Her name is Carol but she wants to be called Christmas Carol. Right? I know. So it’s uh, the only thing I didn’t like about this movie. I mean, it was great. The relationships, everything was really good and the development of how they get together. Or do they? Do I want to ruin it? But anyway, I mean, it’s a holiday movie.

Tara 18:57
They had better get together.

Kris 18:58
Why would I recommend something that where they didn’t end up together. The only thing I didn’t like, and I didn’t see anybody really talking about this, and I want to talk about this because a big part of the movie. Aunt Sandy, played by Jennifer Coolidge, you know from Snap, Snap. She was kind of obnoxious, and she’s a little- she was over the top and they meant her to be over the top. But she was drunk a lot. And she was just really obnoxious and she was kind of a bully during the Christmas play. She tried to like just boss people and do bad things.

Tara 19:37
So she was Stiffler’s mom all over again, but older.

Kris 19:40
I think even worse. Yeah. So it was just she was annoying and at the very end. I mean it was just so, she was so desperate and everything. They made her desperate for attention, desperate for love, desperate for you know, acceptance. It just- it didn’t sit well with me. That was the only thing I didn’t like about it. So.

Tara 20:01
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, I’m super excited to watch this one. I need to figure out because there’s a part of me that’s like “I should wait until after I’m done work”. And then I was like, “Or I should do it on a weeknight while I’m still working before my parents get here, because they won’t want to watch it. Because they’re Baptists”. Which is fine. There are other Christmas movies we can watch with my parents. But I definitely want to watch this one because it’s just I don’t know, it looks so cute.

Kris 20:35
It was. It was super cute. It really was. It’s not the top recommendation. But it’s maybe the second one. S econd to the top. Second. Second place.

Tara 20:44
So what’s your next recommendation?

Kris 20:46
So my next recommendation, it’s a half recommendation. And it’s called Christmas at the Ranch. So last episode, I talked about one Christmas movie that had- it was the Hallmark, the one with the the lesbian lead, one of the sisters.

Tara 21:01
Every Time a Bell Rings.

Kris 21:02
Every Time a Bell Rings. And so I was on this “Okay, so I’m going to do this male male, and I’m going to try female female and see what comes up”. So I went to Twitter, I turned to Twitter and a lot of people were talking about Christmas at the Ranch. So I’m like, I’ll go ahead and watch it. It was on Telo. So here’s the blurb: when Haley Hollis returns to her family ranch to try and save it from closure. She wasn’t banking on spending so much time with ranchhand Kate or falling for her. So why you like it? Hot cow girl? Yes. Yeah.

Tara 21:39
Who doesn’t like that?

Kris 21:40
Right. dating app? Yes. That was- That, to me was the best part of the whole movie. The whole dating apps scene? Yeah, I know. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Is the bionic woman from the 70s her grandmother. Yes.

Tara 21:56

Kris 21:57
Yes. Linda Wagner is. Yeah, yes. Speaking of Bionic Woman, yes. She turns out to be the grandma. And do they save the ranch?

Tara 22:06
That I mean? I sure hope so. It’s a Christmas movie.

Kris 22:11
You’ve got to watch it to find out. Oh, yes. So, you know, and, and, you know, there are new, there are a few new lesbian Christmas movies. And we’ve come talked about it. It’s hard to, to watch every single one. And where am I going with this? It’s just hard to try to find -to start a movie to watch it and then realize it’s really not that good. They’re just they’re not enough hours in the day because I’m writing and I’m working full time , doing the podcast. And it’s just really hard. But anyway, so that’s one half of recommendation. So I feel like if you have time to kill and you’re into hot cow girls, because who isn’t? Then you should watch this movie. Sorry. My second half-

Tara 22:54
This is why I say cheating. You just wanted to do four recommendations when we talked about three.

Kris 23:02
So everybody knows in the past, I’ve talked about this, Zoe’s Extraordinary Playlist, it has been- I think I made it a recommendation, like at the very beginning of our podcast, and it’s super cute. It’s a great series where Zoe, she ends up hearing, being able to hear people’s heart songs. So she hears heartache, she hears when they’re happy, and they break out into song of dance, but only in her mind. So anyway, it’s a long story, but it got canceled. The show got cancelled SON OF A BITCH after two seasons.

Tara 23:31
So rude.

Kris 23:33
So rude and they had great queer rep. So one of the characters is her best friend Mo, and Mo’s gender fluid and has a very strong presence in it, you know, and it brings about a lot of diversity and a lot of queerness to the show. Even though Mo isn’t a primary character, Mo is a very strong secondary character. And so they came out with a movie. So it’s called Zoe’s Extraordinary Christmas. And I was like, “Jell yeah, I’m gonna watch this because I need to know what happens”. You know, because it just kind of ended. You don’t know really what happened. So that was my other half recommendation. So it’s not like-

Tara 24:08
Does it give you that resolution you were looking for?

Kris 24:11
Yeah, it does.

Tara 24:12

Kris 24:13
It kind of does. It does- so so I feel good about it. So I’m okay with that. But here’s my favorite recommendation. And it’s a great movie and get this it’s not even Hallmark. I always talk about I’m such a Hallmark person. This is a Lifetime movie.

Tara 24:28
WAIT but you said you’re always pro-Hallmark and never Lifetime.

Kris 24:32
I know. Well, I was a little nervous to watch this movie because I’m like, “Great. So like, this person is gonna go back to town and there’s gonna be a murder. There’s gonna be an assult or gets kidnapped because that’s every Lifetime movie ever, ever.

Tara 24:45

Kris 24:46
But no, this movie is called the Christmas Setup.

Tara 24:50
Okay. And what’s it about?

Kris 24:53
Okay, it follows the story of New York lawyer Hugo, who heads to Milwaukee with his best friend Madeline. to spend the holidays with his brother and his mom who was Fran Dresher. Dresser, Dressure? Drescher?

Tara 25:03
Yes, yeah Drescher.

Kris 25:04
The Nanny. Drescher. Who is also in charge of local Christmas celebration. Ever the matchmaker Kate arranges for Hugo to run into Patrick, Hugo’s high school friend and secret crush, who has recently returned after a successful stint in Silicon Valley. As they enjoy the local holiday fest- Jesus Christ.

Tara 25:26
You got this? You got it? You can do this.

Kris 25:28
I got this. Okay, this is like a super long blurb. I thought it was gonna be like three sentences- like Jesus this is like the whole entire movie. I’m reading the script. As they enjoy local holiday festivities…Jesus.

Tara 25:46
You either have to figure out the word or do it in your own words.

Kris 25:50
I know I’m just- they put words together that just don’t work from my mouth. Anyway. So she tries to get them together – it’s super rude – tries to get them together. And then he gets offered like this great- He has this great partnership opportunity for a law firm, but they need him to start it up in London. So does he stay in Wisconsin? Or does he go to London?

Tara 26:10
Why can’t he take the other guy to London with him? Then they can have an exciting fancy life in London?

Kris 26:16
Well, maybe they do that.

Tara 26:18
So why did you love this one?

Kris 26:20
You know, I just, it was really- it felt more organic, you know? The acting was, it wasn’t over the top, it was smooth. And it wasn’t so far fetched. You know how some of the holiday movies are just so cheesy. You’re just like- you go with it because it’s a holiday movie.

Tara 26:39
Yeah. Totally.

Kris 26:40
You know, and you’re like, “I want to feel all the feels and it’s okay to embrace the cheese”. And so this one, it really wasn’t that bad. And it’s actually kind of cute because it talks about the history. And it just, it was just adorable. And I really enjoyed it. And it’s it’s definitely the first number one recommendation for me this season of your local queer movies that are available on all the platforms. And I will say this, as a side note, Hugo, to me looks like Jackson Spangler will look like in 15 years. There.

Tara 27:14
Who is that for the people who don’t know who Jackson Spangler is?

Kris 27:19
Okay. I’m surprised because Jackson has a strong presence.

Tara 27:22
I know he’s very famous, but there might be some people that don’t know.

Kris 27:26
Right. So Ray has- Spangler. Rachel Spangler has a son named Jackson. And we have all watched him grow up over the years. And he is now a teenager. And I just feel- I saw this Hugo on television, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s Jackson in 15 years”.

Tara 27:44
That’s so funny. You should tell them watch this movie.

Kris 27:47
I know. I’m going to send Ray message like, “Youu need to watch this movie right out”. So enough about me. I have chatted and stumbled over words for the last 20 minutes. And I’m sorry for that. What are your official recommendations this holiday season?

Tara 28:02
So my recommendations this week are all about books. And since you cheated, I’ve decided to throw something else in at the end. We thought we were doing three, it’s gonna be four. It will be great. So my first recommendation is something that I read- it was just a couple of weeks ago, Lily Seabrook, who I recommended one of her books earlier. I feel like a few I think it was-

Kris 28:36
Was it Faking it?

Tara 28:37
Yeah, yeah yeah, it was Faking It. So it’s only a few episodes ago. So if you haven’t read anything by Lily, this is the second thing I’ve read by her and I am officially a fan at this point. So she released an adorable novella. It’s called Silent Night. I grabbed it one night, kind of around bedtime. And I thought, “Yeah, I’ll just read like a few pages to see what it’s like and it’ll be fine.” And then I read the whole thing.

Kris 29:03

Tara 29:03
Which is a great sign because I almost never do that. And so this is a friends to lovers with a celebrity. So Brooke Carsten is- she’s going home to her tiny hometown Mountain Crossing for the holidays. It’s the first time she’s been back for, you know, longer than a weekend in probably about a decade. She’s a country popstar, kind of you know, at the top of her game, but she just- she needs a break. She really wants to go and just hang out with her family and recharge. Just like have that time at home, right? Have that comfort of being with family. And when she’s there, she runs into her childhood best friend Nicole, and it’s like no time has passed, like they just click that friendship all over again. Except now like there’s a bunch of chemistry there and everyone in the town is conspiring to get them together. Especially their mothers.

Kris 29:59

Tara 29:59
Of course, the big problem is well Nicole’s life is there in Mountain Crossing. She has a business. Brooke has a career in Charlotte, which is in one of the Carolinas and I can never remember which one. I’m Canadian. I’m doing my best. And, you know, what are they going to do? So, there were a few things that I really loved about this book. The small town thing worked really well for me. I mean, are there- I don’t know. Are there holiday books or movies that don’t take place in small towns?

Kris 30:30
No. Well, okay. The only ones that there are are are in New York City. There are a lot of like, Christmas holiday films in New York.

Tara 30:38
Yeah. Only happen. That’s right. Christmas only happens in New York City or small towns, nowhere. else.

Kris 30:45
Right. Small towns, it’s usually small towns where there’s snow. So it’s gonna be like Northeast in the United States. Up in Canada. I mean, those are the two place those movies take place. Books, movies, whatever.

Tara 30:58
Those are the ones. And it’s- I don’t know, like it was just it was cute. And it worked. Because like, all the people in town are totally meddlesome. And I don’t always like when side characters meddle, but this is one where like, it really worked because they were totally supposed to be together. Like you just see them together. And it’s like, “Oh, no, you’re- like you fit. You two are peanut butter and jelly. This is just how it’s meant to be”.

And again, the friends to lovers thing works really well, for me, similar to what you were saying with Single All the Way. It’s just that whole, like, I love, love, love friends to lovers romances where the friends should be together. And everyone knows it except for them. I love it. I will show up every time for that. It works for me. And even though also it is a novella and so there’s- like with novellas, it’s just not as much space. And so I think in this case, that’s where the friends to lovers thing worked really well, because we didn’t have like, there didn’t have to be time devoted to “Oh, I met this cute girl. And now I have to get to know her. And now I-” No they know each other, there’s a deep connection and go. Like just awesome. Worked super well for me.

Kris 32:15

Tara 32:15
The next book I have to recommend is actually a male male romance. It is also a novella. And it’s called Faux Ho Ho, by Nathan Burgoine. It came out a couple years ago, probably the same time as Tinsel. And this is one that I actually resisted reading at first because I was like, “Oh, is this gonna be slightly too close to home?” And he actually assured me over Twitter when I was asking about- I bought it kind of regardless because I want to support my fellow Canadian queers. But this year, I was like, “No, it’s time to pick it up”. And it turns out, it’s actually really cute.

Kris 32:52
It is.

Tara 32:52
So the main character is Silas. He lives in Ottawa, he is working for a tech company. And he doesn’t want his big C conservative family back in Alberta to know that he has a hard time making rent. And so he has to have a roommate. They would see it as a sign that he’s not really living up to the family potential. And they would try to guide him into the right kind of career where he can support himself. They’re very much all about. Like his dad’s a former politician. His brother is a current politician. And they’re all very much about like family image. So when Silas gets a roommate, he ends up with this like super hot, super friendly personal trainer, Dino, who’s this like, gorgeous ripped, Greek bisexual dude, who is adorable.

I don’t know how anybody could read this and not love Dino because he’s just like the cutest human ever. So he basically said to Dine, “Like look, okay, the only thing you need to know about living here is that I have to Skype with my family once or twice a month, and you can never be on because they can’t know that I have a roommate.” And he’s like, “Cool. No problem”. Until the time when Silas’s parents are trying to tell him he has to come out for Thanksgiving, which he doesn’t want to come out for because of course, they’re gonna put him on display as an example of how tolerant his brother is of the home-gays. Even though his brother’s an incredible prick and not actually that supportive. And so Dino slides up behind him and wraps his arms around him and is like, “Oh, sorry, but we kind of promised my family we’d go to their place for Thanksgiving”.

And so it works. Silas’s family thinks he has a boyfriend. Everything is great. And of course they- the other thing that’s important keep in mind there is a Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, it’s like a month and a half before your Thanksgiving in the States.

Kris 34:53

Tara 34:53
Which is important because in November he receives an invitation for his sister’s weddings, which will be on Christmas day for him and Dino. Silas adores his sister. This wedding is going to be at some bougie chalet in Alberta. And so Dina was like, “Let’s just go, I’ll pretend to be your boyfriend. That’s no problem. I don’t care if your parents are shitty conservatives. Let’s, let’s just do this”. And of course, somewhere along the way, real feelings happen.

I don’t know, I just think it’s- I think this book is super, super cute. I think there’s something it does something really interesting with the structure where it jumps kind of back and forth in time. So we see sort of right at the beginning, where Silas is like, “Oh, no”, it’s December. “Oh, no, I hope I didn’t fuck this up”. And then it goes back to kind of like when they first met. And it sort of bounces between.-So they do that sort of like the December thing, but then it kind of follows two timelines. And so the one timeline is when they first meet and become roommates and friends and get to know each other. And then there’s from when Silas gets the wedding invitation onward. And so we see kind of that building a relationship and how they get to know each other, but then also the like, fake relationship aspect of it, until it all kind of collides, at some point.

So the reason I had put this off was just because I live in Alberta. I know what the conservative politics are like here. I was concerned it would feel a little too close to home. And I would say kind of like it it. It was and it wasn’t, I would say in my own personal experience, I haven’t come across that kind of clear cut homophobia here in Alberta. Not that it doesn’t exist. There’s tons of homophobes here, but I live in a city, I work at a super progressive tech company. Like it’s pretty easy if you’re in my life to kind of isolate yourself from stuff like that. But also, I’ve known people like Silas’s family here. So I would say it is kind of realistic in that way. But there is a moment near the end. That is so beautiful. And so perfect. That really kind of makes up for it. And I think this book does a really good job of saying, again, kind of going back to what we were saying at the beginning about how not everybody has good family. Silas doesn’t have good family except for his sister, his sister is amazing family. And you don’t have to continue dealing with bad family. And that’s one of the messages that I love about this book. Like you can choose who you want to be your family you can choose to keep some of your family- you can choose to keep all of it if you want, but you don’t have to keep bad family if they can’t love you for who you are. And I think that’s really kind of the magic of the book for me, seeing Silas really grow to understand that yeah, you know what a super hot, really friendly personal trainer like Dino might actually be interested in someone like him as more than just a friend like it’s just, it’s super cute. So definitely get that.

The other book I really want to recommend. I read this last year? Yep. Last year. It came out the previous year, but I read it. So everybody knows the world kind of fell apart March of 2020 as we all went into lockdown, and it was a hot pile of garbage. And I the following month thought “You know, I never did read that Christmas romance Chelsey Cameron released. I don’t care if it’s April. I’m reading it now. I need it”. And I’m so glad I did. It’s called Christmas in Maine. It is so freakin cute. And it’s like yes, I’m recommending it for Christmas. But if you don’t get around to it for Christmas, and you find you’re having a hard week some other times throughout the year just pick it up anyway.

It’s all told from the perspective of Colden Hayes. Colden describes herself as a non binary Demi girl, which means sometimes Colden in uses she/her pronouns, sometimes uses they/them pronouns, it depends on how Colden feels kind of on the day. I’m just going to use she/her as I talk about this, just to simplify it, but just know that that’s a thing that’s addressed in the book and I actually really like how that’s addressed. So Colden works and lives in Boston. She’s rented a cottage for a two week Christmas vacation all by herself in Maine. She’s so excited. She has a suitcase full of books, she’s got some groceries, she’s ready to just go have the perfect introvert quiet Christmas. But the cottage isn’t actually real. It was like an Airbnb or VRBO scam. And so she’s like, “Well, what the fuck am I gonna do now?” But she’s in Maine, she can’t just turn around and drive back to Boston. And so she-

Kris 40:15
Is she snowed in?

Tara 40:16
Well, it’s snowing. It is snowing. So she has to go somewhere and she sees this like, gorgeous little inn. So she’s like, “Okay, I’m just gonna go there and see if they can- do they have a room?” No, that’s, no that’s a Jesus joke.

And so when she gets there, of course, she’s not all alone, because it’s full of people. But even worse, the inn is owned by the family of her workplace nemesis, Laura. She cannot stand Laura. And she’s like, “Fuck, now what? Okay, no. I should go. I should just go back to Boston”. But the family says “No, you know what? Just stay”. They’re super nice. The food is really good. So she’s like, “Fine, I’ll stay”. But it’s like, can she actually be mad for long with Laura when it’s like Christmas magic time? And there’s a one bed situation?

Kris 41:13
Is there a one bed situation?

Tara 41:14

Kris 41:15

Tara 41:15

Kris 41:16
Stop it.

Tara 41:16

Kris 41:18
The one bed situation?

Tara 41:19
Of course there is, of course there is. It’s-

Kris 41:21
There should be, there should be a whole category of books with the one bed situation.

Tara 41:26
Well there’s a shit ton of fanfic with it. And I think that’s why it’s starting to make its way over into books. Yeah, it’s so good. Colden is so grumpy. She’s just kind of like used to being alone. And so she’s super, super guarded. Like, I don’t even know if it’s fair to call her. I don’t think she’s an ice queen. Like, I don’t think it’s like that. I think she’s just grumpy and isolated. Yeah.

Kris 41:50
There are some people who just aren’t like, happy all the time.

Tara 41:53
Yeah. And she is one of them. But it’s like, it’s just so lovely to see her start to warm up because all of Laura’s family is wonderful, and so Colden has to go on this like massive emotional journey and figure out “Oh, maybe I’m just attracted to this person that I’m mad at all the time”. And Laura is also- she’s just lovely. And one of the things that I think is so sweet is that she regularly checks in with Colden about, like so what pronouns are you feeling today? What pronouns should I be using? And I just think that’s so sweet and so affirming and so good. And it’s just- like it has everything that I love in Chelsea Cameron’s books. Just that I always love the characters. The tone is adorable. The sex is very good. The chemistry is so good. Also, Laura’s grandma has a gigantic pet pig, which I just thought was the funniest thing ever. So-

Kris 42:54
Oh, that’s great.

Tara 42:55
Read this book.

Kris 42:56
Where do you have a pet pig up in? Where’s it? Maine? Do people have pet picks up that north?

Tara 43:02
Laura’s grandma does.

Kris 43:04

Tara 43:04
That is all that I know. But yes, I love this book. I cannot recommend it enough. And because you added one, I’m gonna add one. I’m not gonna go I’m not gonna go into this one in nearly as great detail. I believe it’s also a novella. Or if it’s a novel, it’s not a particularly long novel. I haven’t read that in about a year and a half either. It’s called Mangoes and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera, and it has two Dominican bakers who are on a competitive baking show. It’s like a competitive holiday baking show that is being filmed in Scotland. It’s very cute. It’s very hot. One of them is super grumpy. The other one is very gregarious. Yes.

Kris 43:55
I was going with the rhyme here at the Christmas rhyme. One of them is not

Tara 43:58
Yeah, you’re better at that than me. That was what I should have done. But-

Kris 44:02
I know. It was a perfect setup. I thought she’s gonna to it. She’s gonna- No, no,

Tara 44:05
No I didn’t.

Kris 44:07
It’s all right.

Tara 44:08
But you did, so worked out. So yeah, like it’s very, very cute.

Kris 44:14
And I love everything about that. I mean, baking shows, you know me and the Great British Baking Show and any sort of baking show in any sort of competition. I love it. So this sounds awesome.

Tara 44:26
Oh, yeah. It’s fabulous. So that is all for this episode. And actually, this is our last episode of 2021.Thank you.

Kris 44:38
A whole year. a whole year of Queerly Recommended podcast. We did it.

Tara 44:43
We did.

Kris 44:43
We didn’t skip.

Tara 44:44

Kris 44:44
We did extra. We did extra ones. I’m so proud of us.

Tara 44:49
We did so thank you to everyone who has joined us this year and an extra special thank you to the folks who joined us at the beginning and stuck with us all along the way.

Kris 45:00
Right. Right.

Tara 45:02
We have so appreciated the love, the support, the encouragement, and I can’t wait to join you all next year.

Kris 45:12
So let’s hope 2022 is going to be a hell of a year for all of us.

Tara 45:15
No kidding.

Kris 45:17
I’m hoping.

Tara 45:18
I am not making any declarations about it. I am just going to quietly hope that it’s a little bit better, but I know that it’s going to be full of awesome great media.

Kris 45:33
Well true. And also it’s an even year.

Tara 45:37
Yeah, so was 2020.

Kris 45:38
I know but that’s that’s rock bottom. 2020 is rock bottom.

Tara 45:42
All right.

Kris 45:43
2022 is is- see I feel better. I feel better in even years.

Tara 45:48

Kris 45:50
There we go. Yep, sorry.

Tara 45:51
Well, if you’ve enjoyed this show, please hit that subscribe button wherever you listen to your podcast, you’ll get notified whenever we release a new episode. Like I said earlier, if you have a friend who you think would like the show, please tell them all about it. And if you do want to support us again we have that ko-fi link in the show nuts. Wow, show nuts.

Kris 46:08
Woooo! Our show has nuts!

Tara 46:15
I don’t even know what to say to that. We have a ko-fi link in our show notes. Or you can visit Again totally not necessary but it’s there if you’re interested.

Kris 46:28
Yes and if you want to connect with us on your favorite social media sites look for queerlyrecommended on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or you can email us at And you can also find us separately on all those social media as well.

Tara 46:43
Bye everyone. See you in the holidays.

Kris 46:48
Ho ho ho.

Tara 47:26
And you know what are what are they going to do? And so here’s the thing I- for fuck’s sake. Did you hear that?

Kris 47:35
I did hear that.

Tara 47:36
One moment please.

Kris 47:40
Get’em. Get’em!

Give us 10 more minutes kids, just 10 more minutes, okay.

Oh Daddy’s home. Oh. Dad’s home. He said no more.

No YouTube kids either. Whoa. They hit hammer hard today. They’re upset. I hear tears

Tara 48:51

Kris 48:52
I know I know. I heard. I heard daddy like put the hammer down hard. No more today.

Tara 49:05

Kris 49:05
You came back with the biggest smile on your face

Tara 49:15
I know it’s terrible but also like come on. They got warned. I didn’t realize he had warned them, he had said the same thing about no Roblox. They’re lucky- Well, they would have been lucky if it was just me. Because I was gonna give them one more chance.

Kris 49:31
I heard the whole thing, I heard the whole thing go down. It was like “Hey, okay, you just need to be quiet for the next X amount of minutes. We’re almost done. Just be quiet.”

Tara 49:40
“Just don’t fuck it up”.

Kris 49:42
Yep, Daddy comes in. He’s like, “No, we’re done. No YouTube channel or YouTube Kids. No roadblocks. Nothing.

Tara 49:49
I hate Roblox and YouTube Kids.

Kris 49:53
I don’t even know what that is


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