Cover Image: Finding My Elf

Finding My Elf

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Member Reviews

Finding My Elf is cute and funny and very Christmassy. At times, it’s overly cheesy, but who cares while reading a Christmas story?

I expected full-on YA, to be honest, but I just hadn’t read the blurb well. So, it’s a cross-over YA/NA (without spice!), and I think we need more of them. Stories about teens on the cusp of adulthood, just starting college, their lives full of new opportunities. At least, that’s what Cam expected, but his life turned out differently. His grades suck, and he hasn’t made any friends, let alone a boyfriend. But when he’s home for his winter break, he starts working as an Elf and meets overly cheerful Marco.

This book is for all of you who love uplifting and funny stories by authors like Simon James Green. I have to admit that the cheesiness was sometimes a bit too much for me, and the story is nothing special, but on the other hand, I really had fun while reading this book, and I rooted for Cam and Marco to get together so much.

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This is billed as a holiday romcom, but I think the title more accurately portrays what you're going to get. This book is truly about Cam figuring out who is and what he wants in life with a holiday backdrop and an admittedly adorable love interest. It's definitely not light on the holiday atmosphere, which I'm always looking for in Christmas stories. And while Cam could be a little much at time, I thought that fit for his age and where he was at in life. (Plus Marco balanced it out being adorable). Overall a fun Christmas coming of age story.

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"Finding My Elf" by David Valdes is a heartwarming and whimsical journey of self-discovery that will capture the hearts of readers young and old. This enchanting tale weaves together elements of fantasy, adventure, and personal growth in a way that is touching and entertaining.

"Finding My Elf" has a relatable and endearing protagonist. David Valdes has created a character whose journey of self-discovery is universal and deeply personal. Readers of all ages will connect with the protagonist's desire to find purpose and meaning in their life, making this a story that transcends generational boundaries.

Valdes' prose is engaging and lighthearted, making it accessible to readers of varying ages and backgrounds. The story effortlessly blends the ordinary with the extraordinary, creating a world where magic and self-discovery go hand in hand. Valdes' descriptive skill brings this world to life, immersing readers in its whimsy and wonder.

"Finding My Elf" is not just a fantasy adventure; it's a profound exploration of the human experience. Valdes investigates themes of identity, purpose, and the transformative power of self-acceptance. The book invites readers to reflect on their own journeys of self-discovery and the importance of embracing their true selves.

The book's whimsical elements, including the presence of elves and magical adventures, add a delightful layer of enchantment. Valdes' imaginative storytelling captivates readers and invites them to suspend disbelief, allowing them to immerse themselves fully in the story's magical world.

"Finding My Elf" has the enduring appeal within the genre of fantasy literature. Valdes' narrative combines elements of traditional fantasy with a contemporary sensibility, creating a story that is timeless and relevant. It is a book that reminds us of the power of imagination and the importance of embracing our inner magic.

"Finding My Elf" stands out as a unique and enchanting work. It is a book that will make readers of all ages smile, laugh, and reflect on the beauty of self-discovery and the magic that exists within us all.

This is a heartwarming and enchanting tale that will leave readers feeling uplifted and inspired. It is a book that celebrates the journey of self-discovery, the power of imagination, and the importance of embracing one's true self.

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I just couldn't not get into this book. I got about half way through before realizing I could not care less what ended up happening with the competition or with Marco. I found everything a little flat and much more like it was going through the notions rather than truly investing in storytelling. It just isn't for me.

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This one was really sweet! I read it in one sitting. More of a coming of age than a romance but I think this is a great addition to the genre and who doesn't love a winter themed story?

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When I saw the cover of this book and read the description, I immediately knew I had to read it (despite it being 70 degrees and sunny) but I was in desperate need for those Christmastime feels and Finding My Elf did not disappoint. This book is festive and heartwarming. I absolutely loved the voice of the mc, Cam. The characters are so relatable and well defined. If you’re looking for the PERFECT winter read THIS. IS. IT.

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This story is absolutely adorable. A little angsty Scrooge + sugary Buddy the Elf!

The true grumpy + sunshine trope is perfected here in this fun holiday love story.

And a little coming of age coming out adventure in the process. I mean, what else can you expect from a shopping mall Top Elf contest? 🌲

"You're 18, Cameron. You have the time to mess up."
"Do I, though? That's why I'm doing the whole Elf thing."

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I LOVE Christmas, so when I saw a queer Christmas rom-com on NetGalley, I instantly requested it.

Finding My Elf is about Cam, a freshman at NYU who is home for winter break. Cam feels NYU hasn’t been a good fit for him. He doesn’t feel he’s found his place at the university, he’s pretty sure he’s failed a class, and with the failed class comes the loss of a scholarship. While he has a super close relationship with his single dad, he’s embarrassed to tell him just what’s going on at school. As a way to avoid his dad and earn some money, he decides to get a job as a “Santaland” elf at the town’s local mall. One of the other elves, Marco, quickly catches Cam’s eye, but so does his ex-boyfriend, Leroy, who is also working at Santaland for the holiday. A competition ensues for “Top Elf” with a grand prize of $5,000, and Cam knows he has to win if he wants to go back to NYU. But as the competition progresses, and his romantic feelings become clearer, Cam becomes more uncertain about his future plans.

I was so excited for this book, but sadly it was a miss for me. Bottom line… Cam was just an unlikeable character for me. He came around a little toward the end and I liked him a smidge more, but not enough to say I enjoyed his character. Even though he was in college, his behavior at times mirrored a middle schooler. And I felt he was almost cruel to Marco in the beginning 😭There were also several other characters that I found unlikeable, which made the sting of not liking the MC even more painful. Marco, however, was an actual ray of human sunshine. That boy could do no wrong ever and I purposely finished this book because I wanted to see Marco get his HEA. I also have to mention the subplot situation… there were SO MANY. Including a lying / infidelity subplot that was basically laughed away 🥴 not my cup of tea. And the subplots either seemed to never really resolve, or resolve way too quickly in a “swept under the rug” kind of way. The main plot is very cute and I loved the Santaland setting. My hope is that maybe a few things in the storyline are able to be tweaked by pub day.

*If the publisher sees this, I just wanted to point out that in the beginning of the book, Cam mentions losing his scholarship will mean losing $10,000, and the contest is only a $5,000 prize. Not sure if that’s a typo or if reader’s should assume maybe Cam’s dad is able to make up the difference, but just wanted to point out the discrepancy.

Look for Finding My Elf on November 7th!

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperTeen for this ARC.

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It’s November – and that means it’s time for Christmas reads, and so far this one is the best of the season. Finding My Elf is an incredibly speedy, properly holiday-perfumed little read – and even better, it’s a very charming tale with loads of personality that makes the reader sit up and take notice. It’s about two collegiate rivals working a mall job who fall in love and well, find themselves, during the Christmas season.

Freshman college student Cam is desperate. Becoming a big fish in a big pond after graduating high school and moving to college, he’s close to failing out of his theatrical major due to a lack of confidence, which puts him in danger of losing his scholarship. The last thing he wants to do is tell his hardworking dad that he’s within inches of losing out on graduating from NYU. Heading home to Lindell for winter break, he decides to take an acting job to pay off his debts; the first one that comes along is being one of Santa’s elves at a nearby luxury mall.

Backing up Santa doesn’t match Cam’s natural demeanor, but at least it pays decently. Unfortunately, he finds he must contend with his ex-boyfriend, Leroy, who’s also an elf working at the mall. When Cam learns that, at the end of the season, the most popular, customer-pleasing elf in the bunch will be given a $5,000 bonus and named Top Elf, he becomes determined to do his best. His invention – Oopsy the Elf – gains him viral fame and puts him on the fast track at work. But there’s one fly in Cam’s ointment, and his name is Marco.

Marco is the head elf in Santa’s village, and he’s everything that Cam isn’t (as an elf) – charming, cheerful, friendly, and great with the kids. Cam vows to outdo Marco – but might something be stirring in his own heart – a certain something called love? Will Cam fall back into love with Leroy or will he and Marco turn their rivalry into romance? And will he get that 5k bonus?

Finding My Elf is about growing up, finding love, and managing to make it through the holiday season without punching demanding parents in the face at shopping malls. It’s fun, it’s lively, and it remembers exactly what it feels like to be young and struggling.

Cam feels like a real, fallible person, so I couldn’t help but root for him. I liked his friendship with his buddy, Jazz, and the push-pull of his attraction to Marco. Marco is a happy ball of energy who is wonderfully imperfect.

The only reason this didn’t end up an A-level read for me is that the book ends before Cam can return to NYU and straighten out his educational issues. He has new performing confidence, sure, and a new romance to boot, but his collegiate fumblings are a central part of the novel and this never manages to get resolved in time.

Otherwise, Finding My Elf is a delight of a read that’ll please readers everywhere, and deserves a prime spot under their tree.

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Quote: Note to self: never again have an opinion so loud that no one else can hear themselves think.

Cam and Marco. He’s grumpy and need of some quick cash. He’s Christmas wrapped in dimples. They both are working as elf during peak Christmas season at the brand new mall in their small town. Except being a elf comes with the condition of competing in a social media competition to be the top elf. This story was so cute. I was laughing and kicking my feet and just having the best time reading this story. I will be recommending this story forever!!! 🎄

🎄 V I B E S 🎄

- small town
- grumpy/ sunshine
- Christmas cookie party
- single dad
- social media competition
- first Christmas home from college
- Queer romance 🏳️‍🌈
- Santa’s elves
- safety mom
- judgy mc
- theater kid vibes
- Reese’s secret stash
- #elffail

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for an e-arc of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I love Christmas and by extension I love holiday romances. So I thought a queer, holiday romance, that featured a little bit of a competition (an elfish cheer competition to be specific) would be perfect for me. Unfortunately this just kind of missed the mark for me.

Now, overall I think the concept of the book was great. Cam is back in town after having a really rough first semester off at NYU. He’s on the verge of losing his scholarship so he gets a job at the mall as one of Santa’s elves in Santaland. Part of the job comes with the opportunity to win $5000 in prize money, which would solve all of his problems.

I was really enjoying this book, and Cam’s character but there was just one line that really ruined how I felt about Cam and made it hard for me to connect to him for the rest of the book. After work Cam is talking to Marco, fellow elf and eventual love interest. Well Marco is eating some corn dogs and fries from the food court (as he should because he was hungry). They’re joking around a little and all of the sudden Cam says “I don’t do fast food — I mean if you are what you eat, I don’t want to eat that crap”, which was an instant ick. It kind of burst my happy little bubble and I just found myself being more critical of Cam for the rest of the book.

The real saving grace for me was Marco, he’s a such a sweet guy and you can tell he really cares about really everybody. I kept reading for him.

Regardless of my conflicted feelings about this book I still want to say thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the gifted eARC.

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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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Cam is home for the holidays trying to figure out a way to tell his dad that he's failing NYU, lost his theater scholarship, and needs to find a way to pay for school.... so when his best friend tells him to get a job at the mall as Santa's helper, Cam knows the money will help and the fact that there's a competition with a cash prize Cam can't resist. Yet that means working with an all too perky elf named Marco who is on his case because Cam is the definition of a Scrooge and also facing Cam's ex, Leroy who he might want to get back with. Cam's holiday is about to get really complicated. I'm going to be really honest, Cam got on my nerves so much. He really was so judgmental and not that much of a great friend, and came off as so above everyone and everything. He definitely comes off as a teen, and a mess of one, I was hoping for a bit of a better romance story but I really did bot feel any chemistry between Marco and Cam, and seriously Marco deserved so much better. For what was suppose to be a fun holiday read with enemies to lovers vibes, this one missed the mark for me.

*Thanks Netgalley and HarperCollins Children's Books, HarperTeen for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*

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Finding My Elf made me weepy with anticipation for the Holiday season.

The voice is so strong, which is my favorite for YA. You immediately get a sense of who Cam is and his inner turmoil. The themes are very clear. Cam is struggling to "make it" in New York city, specifically his theater classes (which is the whole reason he's there), which had been his dream coming from a small town. He is nervous to tell his dad and his hometown friends what's really been going on and he's beyond stressed that he might lose his scholarship at NYU, so he throws himself into a job as a mall Elf, trying to win a contest with a hefty cash prize.

Things I loved: Cam's entire being, the homey Christmas references (come November 1st this one's on rotation in my Kindle), Cam's relationship with his dad (giving serious Kurt and Burt vibes from Glee), Cam's emotional transformation as he lets go things and people that don't fit anymore, recognizing how much he's actually grown and at the same time embracing those things that made him him, the side characters (so well developed, I feel like any of them could get a spin-off) and of course, the Elf contest. It's the stuff rom-coms are made of.

Things I wished I got more of: Cam's romance with Marco. I could totally feel it at the end but I would've loved more scenes or striking moments of them alone together before they actually get together.

Ultimately what sticks out in this book to me is Cam's own personal journey and his growth. And of course, CHRISTMASSSS.

Thank you Harper Teen for this ARC.

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If you love reality competition shows, Christmas, and YA romance, this could be the right book for you. It is quirky and over the top mm romance set at a Santa's village at a mall.

Cameron is back from his first semester at NYU, and nothing has gone the way he expected. So what does the theater kid do? Become an elf at Santa's village. But he has no idea how crazy it will become as he is thrown into ridiculous Christmas-themed challenges to become the most popular elf at the mall, all while trying to hide his NYU failures from his dad and figure out his love life.

Cameron is not my favorite character in the book, and we stay from his perspective the whole story. But I love seeing him realize he has not been paying attention to anyone else. We get to learn about his peers as he does.

Valdes balances holiday silliness, teen drama, and fear about college and life not being what Cameron expected. I think it was worth the read.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher.

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3.5 ⭐️

Cam is back in town for Christmas break after having a rough first semester at NYU. While home for the holidays he decides to get a job as one of Santa’s elves at the mall, and learns that there’s a competition for top elf with a prize of $5k.

Desperately in need of the money after losing his scholarship, Cam doesn’t want to stress his dad out further. He plans to be the best elf, but his coworker Marco is a fan favorite, and this competition isn’t going to be as easy of a win as Cam thought.

The more time spent with Marco has Cam seeing him as less of a rival and more as a romantic interest, but there’s also his ex Leroy who’s in the picture and who he isn’t sure if he should try to make things work with or not.

Overall, I really enjoyed Finding My Elf, but I wouldn’t really say it’s a holiday romance as that kind of falls to the back burner. It’s more of a holiday themed coming of age/coming into one’s own story, that’s heavy on the cheese but still really cute. Cam’s character was a bit whiny and OTT, but given that he’s 18 it’s pretty on par.

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Finding My Elf by David Valdes.
*i received this book as an arc in july 2023*

this is the best christmas book i have ever read. i am so please that the cover caught my eye and i clicked on it, because the story was just as fun and kept me reading. overall, i give it four stars, but contextually within christmas books, i give it 5, since the genre i find lacking representation and this book should be boosted as much as possible.
the story follows cam, and though cam irritated me sometimes, he is a relatable character navigating his late teens and first year of college. would definitely recommend this as a queer read, xmas read, cozy read, quick read, or sweet and light read.

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Thank you NeyGalley and the author for a copy of this book.

I really enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. So cute!! I highly recommend!

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Oh my goodness, this was absolutely adorable!

It felt like a Hallmark or 25 Days of Christmas teen romcom and felt like a warm hug!

I highly recommend it to anyone as a holiday read because it was darling and had so much fun representation too. I love to see it! I'll absolutely read more from David Valdes in the future :)

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*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review*

A gay Christmas rom-com? I'm here for it. This was such a fun read, and I was glad that it held on to those cheesy tropes and feelings that a Christmas rom-com brings. I also really loved Marco's constant enthusiasm about being an elf (especially with Safety Mom/Maya) and trying to get Cam to be a little less uptight about everything that was going on. Raven was also such a really fun character, and I appreciated that all the characters felt real and not like they were just showing up to be blips in Cam's story. I do wish we had gotten to see a little bit more interactions between Cam and the parents, or even the other elves and parents because it felt like we only really got to see that one mom and her struggle. I also suggest that another proof read happens to the e-book because there were a lot of sentences that had duplicated sections which made it not make sense. Otherwise, what a fun Christmas romp in Santaland!

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