Cover Image: Finding My Elf

Finding My Elf

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Member Reviews

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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I feel too old for this. The exaggerated voice in the first few chapters put my teeth on edge. More importantly, I couldn't relate to Cam, probably because I'm not a fan of stories that depend on someone refusing to talk to someone else. I spent the section I got through wanting him to share the truth with someone, anyone, particularly with such caring people in his life. So I couldn't finish it.

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Finding my elf


This is for cheesy Christmas movie lovers everywhere! It has basically everything you’d want from a 1 hr 30 romcom in a book. It has the predictable plot and silly antics as well as the cutest love interest.

“Finding My Elf” follows Cam as comes home from his first semester at NYU. His experience there wasn’t the best to say the least. There’s that aspect of having to keep that secret while also dealing a lot with self discovery. He takes an Elf job to try and make more money for NYU when he finds out they’ll be competing for 5 thousand dollars. There’s a lot of will they won’t they with that which was fun.

It wasn’t exactly anything special but I breezed through this and had a lot of fun. I’m never a big fan of the fast burn romance but the story is only set throughout two week so eh.

Overall, I would definitely reccomend if you like cheesy romances. This is especially perfect for this time of year!

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Cam is back from college after having a rough time with his theater classes. Trying to avoid having the conversation with his dad about school, Cam decides to take a job at the mall as an elf and is immersed into Santaland's elf contest. Through the contest, he meets Marco, a fellow elf, and has a run-in with his ex, who also decided to take a job at Santaland. Will Cam end up with the nicest boy he's ever met or the guy from his past?

I thought this book was very cute. I love Christmas and I felt incredibly immersed into Santaland. Reading this book made me want to work at the mall as an elf too! The romance storyline was adorable and I'm glad Cam ended up with the best guy in his lifeI

Thank you HarperCollins Children's Books, HarperTeen and NetGalley for the eARC!

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Whew this ended so much better than it started! Which honestly does make sense because it's applied to so many holiday books I've read with a Scrooge-type role, like a Christmas grump in a Christmas plot is just gonna be a weight in the story until they learn to get tf out of their own way. I also think it's because I get mixed energy from the whole "chasing after the wrong guy when the right guy is right there waiting for you" story that seems to plague queer YA every few months (@ The Sky Blues, @ 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers, @ Lose You to Find Me), but at least Cam was able to get out of his own way faster than the dummies in these other books lmao. I was also sad because I needed to get out of my OWN way and accept that it wasn't going to be the reality TV story I wanted it to be with alliances and villains and voting off Elf Island.

By the time I got halfway through the story, I was over all of those elements and just really engaged in the story. I wish we'd gotten more of a resolution between Cam and his dad, even the triumphant victory that was Cookie Party was thanks to someone else's meddling. And I wanted both more and less for the whole Leroy storyline lol, like I definitely felt a little gross about the whole thing, Leroy is lowkey gutter trash, but also if you're GONNA BE GUTTER TRASH, GO ALL IN, like babe how are you not embarrassed... But I loved the end result of the competition, and I did really like Cam and Marco together, they worked for me.

End result is a book I did enjoy and twas the season, but I don't think I'll ever feel inspired to return to. Unless someone makes an audio recording of The Yule Log Song, Fiona was really out there about to get these children charged and booked for sex crimes glksjdf

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Cam's first semester at college has not gone as he hoped. His dreams of theater stardom and a big group of like-minded friends did not happen. Instead, he's failing his theater classes, friendless, and on the verge of losing his scholarship. When he returns home for winter break, he's eager to avoid talking with his dad about what his really going on and needs to earn some money. So Cam takes a job as a one of Santa's helpers at a mall. The job offers decent pay and a chance to win a cash prize if he is voted the most festive of all of Santa's helpers. Cam is focused on winning the competition, and winning back his ex-boyfriend who is also working at the mall, and he largely finds his co-workers to be annoying competition for the big prize. Soon, though, he discovers not just that there is more to his co-workers than he expected, especially his fellow elf Marco, but that the job that was supposed to be an escape may help him figure out what direction he wants his life to take.

This was a highly entertaining story. It combines comedy with a perceptive exploration of growing up, navigating early adulthood, and confronting the most challenging expectations of all -- those people place on themselves.

Highly recommended!

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The premise behind the book was cute. A survivor type elf competition in Santaland at the new mall, with $5k going to the winner. Cam is home from college after losing his acting scholarship and gets the job as an elf to avoid his Dad because he doesn't want to have to tell him and maybe will make some money while he is at it.

I really struggled with this book. Most of it was the relationships were not believable. Cam is super close with his Dad and missed him while he was away at college, but doesn't want to spend time with him, then gets hurt when his Dad starts leaving for work early. Jazz is his absolute best friend but he barely tells her anything, doesn't seem interested in meeting her girlfriend, and barely sees her during his trip home because he is more interested in reconnecting with a mediocre ex so he doesn't have to be alone. Finally, he's kind of a jerk to everyone and still has someone crushing on him?

Maybe this book would appeal to the intended teen audience, but as a parent Cam just made me angry. His Dad is working two jobs to put him through college and he's at the mall buying $50 t-shirts and spending $15 each day on cookies while thinking to himself that he shouldn't be spending so much. He was so self absorbed throughout the entire book that it was annoying.

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This was an extremely quick read, but it just didn't work for me. The main character was extremely unlikeable, and not in a "bah humbug" way like Christmas books tend to be. He was just a jerk, and incredibly immature. He was acting like a 14 year old, while he was 18. It just kept making me roll my eyes. On top of that he was so incredibly insecure, but at the same time so incredibly judgemental, and it truly doesn't get better. His "growth" is realising the people he had judgements about had their own struggles, and although the message is to not judge that quickly, he does still keep doing it. It got on my nerves. He's also so incredibly self-centered. He just doesn't seem as bad because some of the side characters are even worse. But if you have to invent cartoonishly mean side characters to make your main character look better, he's a piece of shit.
The romance was also terrible. I mean, it was nearly non-existant. The love interest didn't even became a propper character in the book until we passed the halfway mark. The main character's ex gets more page time than the love interest. How does that happen? I mean, most characters get more page time than the love interest so it truly isn't that big of a shock. That also caused for the romance to be extremely underdeveloped. They truly know absolutely nothing about each other, and we are meant to believe that they are meant to be together. Yeah no, that's not happening.
The Twelve Days of Elfmas competition was fun. Extremely unrealistic, but also extremely fun. I thought it was a really interesting way to frame the story, and caused for some entertaining moments. It's also what kept me from giving this book a one star, and it did give this whole book an extremely Christmasy feel. However, it wasn't good enough to save the disaster that the rest of the book was for me.

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Over the course of December, I attempted to read this book several times. I tried both the ebook and the audiobook at felt absolutely no pull towards it. Finally, I gave up on it

*DNF @ 36%*

I think it’s coming to the time where I am too old for YA like this. This reads on the younger side of YA (13-15) and the I just did not enjoy the main character. Despite being in college, he acts like a 14 year old and I cannot appreciate that immaturity. Totally get why some people like this book and its definitely not terrible just not for me and my current taste in literature.

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I really enjoyed this fun Christmas story. A YA that felt inclusive and could be read by an adult or teen. The story was an easy read with a Christmas feel.

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This was a delightful Hallmark movie turned into a YA book, festive, cozy, filled with inherently good people making good decisions - a protagonist who makes poor choices, and acts selfishly at first but realises he can be a better person etc.

I had a really good time and liked the narrative of a mall ‘elf idol’ type competition to frame the romance on.

A lovely time was had by all and I left feeling Christmassy! Yay!

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This was a very wholesome, very holiday vibes filled book, and cheered me up so much! It's really the perfect read for the weeks leading up to Christmas <333

It's a grumpy/sunshine romance between two elves working at a mall's Santaland, and there are plenty of Christmas vibes thrown around, as well as a competition (with stakes!) happening in the background. The queer rep was so cool as well, this book is definitely a comfort read!

TWs - past death of parent (not pov character), difficulties due to lack of money

-- ty to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy!

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Finding My Elf - David Valdes
4 stars

This was the festive breath of fresh air I needed. The story is the kind of cheesy rom com you need during this season.

I found this such an easy story to immerse myself in., The layout makes it a nice quick read broken down into the 12 days of Elfmas. A competition for the Elves at Santa's grotto to win a cash prize has people from different backgrounds competing for a life changing amount of money.

The romance and friendships are so heartwarming and easy to get invested in. But the friendships add an extra dynamic too. The story felt really authentic with the modern issues of people being overworked and underpaid, the struggle to be accepted into a world of 'the arts', and the battle between being the real you and feeling like you have to be someone else entirely to be accepted.

The diversity, acceptance, love and festivities in this story make it one I'd highly recommend.

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This sounded like a great book to get into the holiday spirit and that's exactly what it was! I loved all of the challenges that Cam had to compete as an elf, and the whole setting and competition felt so festive!

However, I didn't really care for the romance in this book, especially the Leroy storyline which felt very unnecessary. Cam also seemed to be very selfish for a lot of the book but I guess that's so he can show some growth throughout.

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Cameron’s life isn’t going the way he always planned. He’s not succeeding in theater at NYU, and is in danger of losing his scholarship. So he finds himself back in his hometown for Christmas, working as an elf at Santaland in the mall in an attempt to make enough money to help out with college. But little does he know becoming an elf may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

I loved this book-found family, romance (and oh, the romance! I shipped Cameron and his true paramour so hard!), the magic of the holidays, finding your true self…this is a perfect read for the holiday season. It will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. I definitely recommend this book, especially during this month.

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Finding My Elf was a cute and cozy holiday romance, perfect for colder and gloomier days! This was my first David Valdes book and I truly can't wait to read more!

In Finding My Elf we follow Cam, a college freshman just returning home for the holidays, disillusioned after spending his first few months at NYU and convinced that he is just not good enough for all the Big Apple and his serious theatre program has to offer. Scared of his financial aid falling through, he decided to take a job at Santaland as an elf - and with that gets an opportunity to compete for the title of "best elf" and winning the prize of 5k that would help him immensely. As bleak as Cam's situation might look, holidays bring with them their own kind of magic - be it in form of epic ex teachers, new flame Marco, or wonderful and supportive dads.

Basically, this was a true holiday treat! Filled with swoon-worthy romance (it was a bit insta-lovey and fast, but they really were cute so I didn't mind that much hehe), great friendships, really heartwarming family dynamics, and the message of not necessarily giving up when things seem impossible but just pivoting, I quite loved this one.

Would definitely recommend to people currently searching for new queer holiday romances to read. <3

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This was such a fun Christmas read! The characters were very loveable, the story was very cute. It was a bit cheese sometimes, but that doens’t matter if it’s a Christmas story.

Its a fun coming of age story, with a competition aspect which i loved! Cam was a bit annoying sometimes, because he could be a bit selfish. Marco was a very cheerful and happy character, and I really loved him!

It’s a cute, new adult, grumpy/sunshine holiday romance. And it’s not the usual small town romance you know. The competition part made it an original story.

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I’d give this a 3.5. A cute young adult Christmassy read.
My favourite thing about this was the Elfmas competition events. A Christmas competition is such a classic festive theme. Allows for lots of fun festive activities and ridiculousness.

I did find main character Cam a little hard to like at times. He was definitely a bit self-centred and in his own head, but enjoyed his development in realising that everyone has stuff going on that you don’t know about and kindness is so important. A great message/journey for the holiday season.

Marco was so bubbly and sweet. The perfect mall elf. His influence on Cam and the way they balanced each other worked really well.

The side characters were fun, I found myself wanting to know more about a lot of the adult characters and read their stories. Cam’s dad was such a gem, I want to go to his cookie party!

As a teen I would have absolutely adored this. I hope lots of teenagers have fun reading it.

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperYA360 for an advanced copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a really cute fun read. It is very light hearted, and funny with plenty of Christmas fun. It read like a cute comforting Hallmark movie.

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I enjoyed Finding My Elf so much! I could easily see this being a cute Halmark style movie! I really liked Cam and Marco's relationship development. They were written in a way that makes you root for them.

The book is definitely cheesy, but what holiday book isn't? It's a quick, light-hearted read, perfect for this time of year. I also liked the pop culture references that were sprinkled in. Not entirely sure how some of them will age, but they were a fun addition.

Finding My Elf was my first book by David Valdes, and it's made me want to check out others by them.

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