Cover Image: Finding My Elf

Finding My Elf

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Member Reviews

This is a festive little romcom about Cam who has come home during winter break and is trying to find himself, while maybe also finding "the one".

Cam escaped Lindell to go to NYU for college and thought that he would have found "his people" here but it's anything but that. He's flunking his theater classes, about to lose his scholarship, and feels so alone. When he gets home for winter break, he is so desperate to avoid any conversation with his dad that he takes the first job that he can find - as a mall elf. Even though Cam feels so down about what is happening and doesn't want to disappoint his dad, the plus side of this new job is that there is a cash prize for the most festive elf.

Cam thought he would have it in the bag but the competition is quite fierce - especially from Marco, who seems like the picture-perfect elf. At first, Cam sees Marco as nothing but an annoying rival but the more time that they spend together, he starts to second-guess his feelings.

This was such a cute quick read. I loved the pace of this book, it was quick but I was invested the entire time I read the book. I wanted to know what each challenge was each day of Elfmas and thoroughly enjoyed Cam and Marco's banter and interactions with each other. So cute!

If you love quick romcoms that are just too cute, then this book is for you and it is coming out on 11/7/23! Make sure you get a copy. Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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NYWho?

Like David Valdes's Finding My Elf's main character Cam, I went to NYU for undergrad. I was also in Tisch School of the Arts (but I studied film instead of acting). Like Cam, I know the pain of not fitting in. The first year, after turning in my first photography assignment, my photos were on the lightbox, and some higher up in the department was walking through the halls. He stopped in, and just my luck, he decided to look at my photos. 


He scrutinized them and asked me what light meter setting I'd used. Eighteen-year-old me burst into tears and ran out of the room directly into the bathroom to hide. I had no idea what a light meter even was. As an adult, I realize that my professor probably should have taught me to use a light meter before sending me off on my first photography assignment.

Just like Cam's teachers probably should have talked to him about how poorly he was doing in his classes and in experimental theatre. The thing is, having gone to NYU, I believe it. What's not believable is that a $5,000 prize would allow Cam to continue studying at the university. I attended that school nearly 20 years ago, and it wouldn't have made a dent back then. I know it's best not to get stuck on the realism of things in a fluffy Christmas novel, but given the cost of higher education in the United States, I couldn't even. 

The Rest of It All

Besides the lack of financial believability, how's the rest of Finding My Elf? Well, it's pretty much a paint-by-numbers holiday rom-com. I say pretty much because there is more character growth here than one always finds in this genre. Cam is growing up. He's at that phase in life where he realizes that he's not the main character of the world (just the novel).


Older young adult is a fascinating subgenre, as it allows for a different level of introspection. When kids enter university, they can better understand who they used to be compared to who they want to be. David Valdes has captured that well. 

Should You Read It?

Do you like Christmas rom-coms? If the answer is yes, then Finding My Elf is for you. If you do not like them, I don't think there's enough here to enjoy. Unless, of course, you like to read very graphic descriptions of cookies. There's also that!

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This was cute. The romance doesn't really start until about 50% through though. I kind of wanted it to be dual pov, it would have added depth to both characters.

I received an arc through netgalley.

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This one was so cute! I love any story with the elves that work in Santa's village and this had a competition between the elves doing different fun activities and challenges. They were trying to draw in the shoppers but each of the competitors needed the money for something going on in their life. So the competition was fierce.

Cameron was so cute and things were not going as planned with college and so this win would help. But his ex is also working there and there's a new love interest for him with one of his competitors. He had a lot going on.

Def add this queer Christmas book to your list!

Thank you harperteen for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.

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What a cute way to start holiday reading! A warm, feel good holiday gay boy romcom!

Finding My Elf is really about just finding who are through the holiday spirit and I mean who are we to deny ourselves?

So if you want a cute, PG, gay, Christmas romcom, then check this one out!

Thank you David Valdes, HarperCollins, and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest review!

Finding My Elf by David Valdes releases November 7, 2023!

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What a delightful little YA MM romance between down on his luck Cam and cheerful Marco.

So Cam is home from his first semester of college and his not doing very well. College isn’t what he hoped it would be and he’s desperate to hide that from his family so he takes a job as an elf. There, he meets Marco, and while they start of as kinda rivals, it quickly turns into a sweet friendship and a clean little love story.

This is 100% YA. There’s nothing NA about it like other reviewers have mentioned because NA stories have spice and this one is completely clean.

This is a somewhat quick, easy, sweet, fluffy, perfect holiday read!

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This was a super fun, new adult, grumpy/grinchy sunshine queer holiday romance!! I loved the mall elf antics and the swoony M/M romance. Perfect for fans of authors like Timothy Janovski and anyone who wants a feel good holiday read with some depth. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy in exchange for my honest review!!

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Thank you, NetGalley, HarperCollins Children's Books and David Valdes for providing me with an eARC of Finding My Elf for review.

⭐⭐⭐💫 - rounded up - Available 7 November 2023

This is a cute read. If you love Netflix or Hallmark Holiday movies then this will be a satisfying read for the festive RomCom itch.

There is some depth to the story and the characters, which for a YA reader would probably be insightful. For an adult YA reader it isn't groundbreaking self-discovery but it is there.

I think for me I sort of missed the 'why' is this 'falling in love' happening to our main character. I didn't quite grasp why it was occurring beyond someone treating them with respect and kindness.

But once again, a Holiday rom-com doesn't have to make complete sense - sometimes we just need our happy ending.

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Finding My Elf is the perfect festive story.

Wonderfully Christmassy and filled to the brim with friends and family.

It's a cute, easy read that really hits the spot.

I loved the budding relationship between 'Jingle' and 'Oopsy' and all of the Xmas vibes that came along with it.

The story flowed well because it wasn't all about the love story, it had a more serious secondary chain of events that made it all feel more real, heartfelt.

With an entertaining cast of characters and of course the wonder that is #elfmas Finding My Elf is the ideal wintery treat (after cookies of course).

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Finding My Elf by David Valdes is a really fun queer holiday rom com that I really loved.
Cam and Marco are the main characters. Small town vibes with the grumpy sunshine trope.

The chemistry was so great, and I loved the Christmas cookie party.

Such a great Queer romance 🏳️‍🌈

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Finding My Elf by David Valdes is a young to new adult romance currently scheduled for release on November 7 2023. Escaping to NYU for college didn’t turn out the way Cameron planned—he’s flunking his theater classes, about to lose his scholarship, and he still hasn’t found anyone he can call his “people.” When he gets home for winter break, he’s so desperate to avoid a Conversation with his dad that he takes the first acting job he can get—as a mall elf. Despite how Scroogey he feels, the plus side is that there’s a cash prize for the most festive of Santa’s helpers. But the competition is fierce—especially from fellow elf Marco. Christmas spirit oozes out of his veins. At first Cam is determined to see him as nothing but a rival, but as they spend more time together, Cam starts to second-guess himself. What if he’s finally found his people here—in the fakest consumerist nightmare place on Earth, where he least expected it?

Finding My Elf is a book that is as much about finding romance as it is figuring yourself out. I think it also hold the great reminder, that even the people you think have it all figured out are struggling too, and that being true to the people that matter is much more important that what anyone else thinks of you (which you might have wrong any way). I felt for Cameron a great deal, even when he made mistakes that I felt were realistic for someone their age and struggling to find their place. I adored Marco, and saw the basic trajectory of the story coming from the start, but I loved the ride. I thought the depth given to the secondary characters was great, making no character all bad or good- just human with concerns, flaws, and issues that they need to figure out. I really enjoyed this read and will be on the lookout for more from the author.

Finding My Elf is a a romance that many readers will be able o relate to on some level while getting into the holiday spirit.

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I loved this book! It looks like it's being marketed as YA, but the writing style rang more as adult romance, while keeping it almost completely PG (maybe some PG13 jokes were made, but no sex scenes). It could definitely appeal to a wide range of audiences, and also reminded me a lot of "How to Excavate a Heart" by Jake Maia Arlow in terms of general plot and humor. The elf competition, while deeply unrealistic, was a fun frame to base the plot and character development on (and no one comes to a romance novel for realistic premises anyway). I will definitely recommend this to my friends as a fun Christmas read.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC!

The main word I would use to describe Finding My Elf by David Valdes would be fun. This book had me in the holiday spirit in October! I was singing Christmas carols while reading and I'm certain my family is sick of me. The plot of this book was fun and lighthearted. I was invested in the characters and each one certainly grew on me. The main character was slightly unlikeable but not terribly so and their Scrooge-esc behavior was addressed. Finding My Elf had coming-of-age aspects that added to the characters and it was overall just an enjoyable book to read. It felt like I was reading a book infused with Christmas cookies which, is exactly what I was in the mood for.

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This was an incredibly cute read. Sometimes Christmas reads don't have enough Christmas vibes, but this one was absolutely filled with them. I could very easily picture this as a movie, and now that's all I want. The book is descriptive in a way that I could easily visualize everything, which really added to me wanting it to be a movie, on top of it being a super cute romcom.

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A quick fun YA holiday read. Very Christmas-y and very sweet. Perfect light read as the snow starts falling! Cam has just returned to his small MA home town from a less than successful semester as a theater major at NYU. He is questioning everything about himself--his choices, his talent, and whether he should try to re-kindle a romance he ended before leaving. He fears his grades will jeopardize his scholarship and thus his ability to return to school. His single father is working two jobs to help him with expenses. SO, he takes a holiday job as an elf at Santaland in a new mall--where he meets Marco, a cheery elf with challenges of his own, who quickly turns out to be Cam's soul mate. While initially, Cam looks down on the job, he learns alot about what is important in life from the other characters. You root for Cam as he figures himself out.

There is nothing particularly new or memorable here--just a sweet story to while away a winter's day.

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This was an incredibly cute read. I love Christmas and by extension I love holiday romances. In this story, Cam comes back to his small town for Christmas break after spending a disastrous semester away at NYU, where he didn't do as well as he had hoped. He decides to get a job at the brand new mall in town, but the only job hiring is for the Christmas elves in Santaland..

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I enjoyed this one. I love a good Christmas story, especially a Queer one. In addition to being a rom com I would also call this a coming of age story. Cam has a bad semester at NYU. He gets a job at the mall as Santa's Elves during Christmas break, where he meets Marco his coworker that is also his rival, The best elf will win a prize of 5K! Marco and Cam end up falling for each other. I absolutely love their relationship. They are so wholesome and cute together and it gave me all of the warm cozy vibes that I was wanting. It's also the perfect amount of cheesy that I like. I will for sure be recommending this book to my friends.

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Thanks for the opportunity to read and review this book. I adored it! The review will appear on episode 33 of my podcast which drops on Monday, November 6. I'll also post the review to my blog and to Goodreads then as well.

Review:
This book was absolutely adorable. I read this one at the beginning of October and felt a bit like a department store putting out their Christmas decor before Halloween was over, but having just read 25 horror/thriller/mystery books in a row, this was the perfect palette cleanser.

The story revolves around Cameron (Cam), a college student at a crossroads in life. Cam was the star in all of his high school theatre productions, and after graduation, he set off to study theatre at NYU but quickly learned that things are much different in college. Cam no longer stands out as the star, and he is pretty sure when his grades come in, they won't be high enough to keep his scholarship, and he won't be able to go back. How can he possibly tell his dad or his friends this? Desperate to escape difficult conversations with his dad about his personal failures, Cam takes on the unexpected role of a mall elf at the new mall in his hometown. Here, he meets the puppy-dog cute Marco, who is a little too cheery and perfect for the job. When Cam learns there will be a competition between all of Santa's elves, with the winner bringing home enough money to keep Cam at NYU without his scholarship, the competition is on. Cam just needs to stay focused on the prize rather than the way Marco makes his heart pitter-patter.

Woven throughout the story are themes of self-discovery and personal growth. As Cameron navigates his way through the challenges of his college failures and the pressures of family expectations, he gradually learns to let go of his preconceived notions and embrace the possibilities that lie before him. This exploration of identity and self-acceptance is expertly conveyed, resonating with readers and leaving them with a sense of hope and inspiration.

As far as characters go, Cameron is a relatable and lovable character. Through his often clumsy yet endearing charm, readers can't help but root for Cam as he strives to find his place in the world. We feel his disappointment in himself, and we totally understand why he doesn't want to tell his dad he may be failing out of school. Speaking of his dad, has there ever been a cuter and sweeter parent? His obsession with Christmas and all things snowmen and his dedication to Cam are seriously adorable.

And we can't forget Marco. He is the embodiment of the Christmas spirit, serving as both a friendly rival and a guiding light in Cameron's journey. The dynamic between Cameron and Marco adds another layer of charm to the narrative. As their relationship develops, Valdes convincingly portrays their deepening connection, challenging Cameron's preconceived notions and helping him discover a newfound sense of belonging.

Aside from the characters, the author skillfully captures the chaos, excitement, and enchantment of Santa's village, and adding a competition element makes it even more fun. Everywhere we turn these days, there's another competition - be it on TV or otherwise - and I loved the idea of mall elves competing for the prize of top elf, especially when two of them are falling for each other.

Finding My Elf is a super fun rom-com perfect for the holidays. It's filled with warmth, humor, and a touch of holiday magic. The relatable characters, charming setting, and heartfelt themes make this book a delightful read that will leave you feeling all kinds of warm and fuzzy this holiday season. Embrace the magic and pick up a copy – you won't be disappointed!

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this book was really cute and sweet— but just not for me.

i don’t know but i didn’t really care about the characters but when i did, it was good.

thank you NetGalley for the e-ARC!

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3⭐️ this was cute. I had a hard time at first getting into this because I found Cam to be incredibly self-centered and not very likable, but I promised myself to push through and I’m glad I did.
This was well written and the plot moved along quickly. This is a fun, wholesome and quick holiday read.
There were couple moments and written lines that made me pause and literally think “did that need to me written? Was that serious necessary?”. But overall this was cute.

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