Cover Image: Finding My Elf

Finding My Elf

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Member Reviews

Cameron is having an existential crisis about losing his scholarship NYU, so he accepts the mall elf job to avoid reality. He sees the Elf contest as his opportunity to earn enough money to be able to stay at school.

This sets up a dichotomy: Cam has to be happy and festive at work, but he avoids talking to his father about his predicament because he doesn’t want to disappoint his father, who works two jobs to support him.

Ultimately, this is a book about self acceptance. At NYU, Cameron tried to branch away from silly campy roles, and it takes a job as a mall elf for him to realize that he doesn’t have to change himself to fit in.

The romance with Marco is more of a secondary plot point; their burgeoning friendship is the higher priority, especially since it can’t be separated from their position as rivals in the contest. But Marco is good for Cameron because he helps Cameron embrace the whimsy of the winter wonderland they work in.

Speaking of which, the contest takes up most of the plot, and rightly so. It’s a campy take on a competitive reality show wherein mall guests are invited to vote on their favorite elf to move on to the next round. Seeing the different personalities complete goofy tasks was hilarious, and it was heartwarming to see Cam shed his inhibitions and embrace the cheesiness.
I would absolutely recommend Finding My Elf. My one complaint about this book is minor and petty, but it must be said. Why did Cam and his boyfriend make pilgrimages to the Boston Cheesecake Factory instead of the Natick location– an hour closer and free parking? Other than that, this book was perfect. It needs to be a holiday movie on a streaming service. Is it too late to make this happen for 2024? I can wait until 2025.




I received a digital ARC of this book from Harper Collins/NetGalley.

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Thanks netgalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book. This was a really fun read while touching on some very relatable young adult topics. The main character was very relatable in his feelings of not quite feeling like he belonged where he grew up in a big fish little pond in high school then how he goes to college in New York and questions everything he thought he knew he wanted to do in life. The santaland elf tie in job and reality tv type contest made this a fun quick read. You feel for the main character in not wanting to disappoint his dad who has done so much to raise him on his own. The story goes through romantic relationship struggles as well as friendship dynamics all in a relatable way.

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I found Cameron to be insufferable. He couldn't see the world beyond his own bubble, which is often the problem with YA stories.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.

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It's almost the holiday season and David Valdes is delivering with his new book which came out on November 7th! If you’re looking for a cute YA holiday romcom, then Finding My Elf is the book for you!

This book was a cute and quick Christmas-themed read, but I felt like it was missing something to give it more depth. I know it’s a YA novel and maybe I wasn't in the target demographic, but Cameron was kind of annoying in the beginning of the novel for me and some of the plot felt underdeveloped.

That being said, I was very invested to see who would win the Mall Elf competition and found the book easy to read! This book did have all of the Christmas-y vibes so if you’re looking for a holiday read, then look no further!

*I received an ARC from Epic Reads in exchange for my honest opinion.

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One of the sweetest enemies to lovers romcoms that I've read in a while, and a perfect addition to holiday classics focused on working retail as well as coming of age stories about figuring out where on earth you belong in the world and the trial and errors of growing up.

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Meh. I wanted to enjoy it (I'm all for queer rep and I *love* a good M/M romance) but it just didn't work for me. I tried to like the protagonist, I really did, but something about him just really got on my nerves. The writing was alright-ish but still fell flat for me. That said, it looks like there are plenty of great reviews for it on here so don't just take my word for it. If it sounds good to you, check it out!


Note: I received a free electronic edition of this book via NetGalley in exchange for the honest review above. I would like to thank them, the publisher, and the author for the opportunity to do so.

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This is a unique and really cute Christmas story I’d definitely recommend for anyone wanting a read to snuggle up with around the holidays!

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A freshman home from college and thinking of dropping out after a rough first semester becomes an elf at the local mall, not knowing it also involves a competition with a big cash prize. If only he wasn't competing against a cute guy he may just be developing a crush on. And if only his ex wasn't trying to win him back. This was a cute YA holiday romance and even inspired me to have a cookie party with friends for Christmas.

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Such a cute little Christmas book. Cam felt like a very relatable character making mistakes that felt like ones a teen would make in real life. There weren’t any twists in this book but it’s definitely a good book for those who are fans of holiday romcoms.

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Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with this arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading this book was like watching a Hallmark movie. The relationship was simple and fast-moving. Our characters were cute and the story was sweet. Overall this was the perfect Christmas read, i read it in just one sitting and enjoyed every second of it. Was it cheesy, yes did I still love it? absolutely!

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I think I just need to take a step back from reading YA romance books - they never work for me. Cute concept but I just didn't enjoy reading it.

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This is a really cute and fun holiday read. I loved the characters and the setting. Fun and funny, you'll love this one!

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Cameron thought that going to college would be when his life started, but he’s failing his theater classes, on the cusp of losing his scholarship, and hasn’t found his “people” yet. Now he’s home for winter break and, in a desperate attempt to avoid a hard conversation with his dad, he takes the first acting gig he can—as a mall elf. It’s not all bad though; there is a competition with a cash prize for the most festive elf in Santa’s Village and Cam is determined to win the prize so he can continue attending college. But the competition is fierce, especially against Marco who just oozes Christmas spirit. As the competition continues, Cam starts to wonder if this weird consumerist nightmare is where he might have finally found somewhere to belong.

This story was exactly the fun holiday romcom it set out to be. Cam is an incredibly relatable character who is trying to figure out who he is and where he belongs. He makes some questionable decisions, but they make so much sense as a teenager in his position. Valdes has managed to capture the teenage voice in a way that is authentic yet not grating (oh no, am I at the point of old age where I can’t relate to the youths anymore?!)

The found family element of this story came as a surprise in the absolute best way. The crew at Santa’s Village all had such distinct and fun personalities. And not only does Valdes allow Cam and Marco to have wonderful character arcs, but the side characters also grow and change during the story, rounding it out in a beautiful way.

Was this a book filled with surprises, twists, and turns? Not exactly. But was it an absolute joy to read and help get into the holiday spirit? Abso-freaking-lutely! Despite the fact that it was fairly easy to figure out how the book would end, it was a fun journey to reach the end and I, for one, needed this little pick-me-up.

Also, if anyone wants to start a holiday cookie party annual tradition, I'd like to be at the top of that invite list. IYKYK.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review.

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This was so much fun. This is about Cameron who, after his first semester at NYU, finds himself floundering and questioning his path. He's hoping to find some answers while he is home for Christmas and to make some money. He ends up taking up a job as an elf for a mall Santa Village and taking part in a social-media-based contest for the elves that has a cash prize. I think this author does a great job of balancing Cameron's romantic, career, and familial journeys while adding humor and heart. This book tackles a lot but I think it captures the mess of this phase of life well. I think the MC makes a lot of poor choices, but they felt right for a character this age. I wish more time was spent developing the romance, and the contest felt way too over the top at times, but I also really had fun with those parts. I was particularly touched by the single father/son bond that was covered in this book, and think the author handled it with care.

Ultimately, this is a title I would feel great recommending to teens for the holidays. It is relevant, funny and full of holiday spirit.

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This was sort of cute but mostly annoying. The main character Cam was super annoying and selfish and I just did not understand why he had to get some elf job at the mall or how $5,000 is enough money to continue his extremely expensive collegiate career out of state in New York City. Other baffling aspects included Cam's ex suddenly being weirdly evil, the romance between Cam and Marco, the elf competition, the conclusion of the elf competition, the musical theater references, and Cam's dad crying a lot. Nothing in this absurd book made any sense.

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This was a cheesy, sweet Christmas story 🎅🏻🎄

There wasn’t a whole lot of jeopardy in the story and the relationship between Cam and Marco was incredibly fast moving. But ultimately this was an uncomplicated, cute little story - like a Hallmark Christmas movie!

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Super cute Christmas YA/NA story.

Cam returns from New York to his hometown to spend Christmas with his Dad. Turns out he isn't doing well at college, he feels like he doesn't fit in, and he might lose his scholarship. So he takes a job being an elf at the mall, this is no ordinary Elf job as there a competition where the best elf wins $5,000.

This is a short read, super fun and campy at Christmas. We have BIPOC and Queer rep, this is just a great lighthearted festive read with fun characters, a fun competition. I read it all in one sitting and it made me feel all Christmas-y. I think the main character could be selfish at times but I put that down to the age of the character and he definitely improves as the story goes on.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

This book was really cute and fun. I just finished up my first semester in college, and this helped me get back into reading. I really liked the whole christmas vibe and how they are Santas helpers. Although it was short, it felt right. Maybe in a few months my opinion will change, however, I loved Cam and Marco, and I cannot wait to read more from Valdes.

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Thank you for the e-ARC Harper360YA!

Cam studies theatre at NYU and returns home for the Christmas break. NYU was supposed to be Cam’s escape. He would meet his people there and have a new start, but now he’s convinced that he will lose his scholarship. He’s not good at the plays he has to perform at college. He doesn’t want to tell his father how bad things are going and decides to apply as the role of elf at Santaland in order to avoid his dad. Turns out that there’s a competition for the elves. The most popular elf will win a cash prize. Elf Marco is very good at charming people. Cam sees him as competition until he gets to know him better. What if Marco is one of his people?

Finding My Elf is a sweet, funny, queer Christmas book. Cam second guesses himself but he’s also very clumsy, creating funny moments. At first he hates how clumsy he is and feels often embarrassed, but throughout the book he embraces it and his shortcomings. Life doesn’t go as planned and that’s okay. The most important thing is that you’re happy and that’s what this book is about.

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