Cover Image: How Can I Help You

How Can I Help You

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Member Reviews

As a librarian in a public library, I really liked the setting of this book.  I loved seeing all the references to situations that I have also dealt with as a librarian.  I also enjoyed the references to Shirley Jackson and those to true crime cases in hospitals.  Overall, an interesting book and one I would share with my co-workers at the library.
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How Can I Help You by Laura Sims is a book full of antics that will delight and depress as the excitement builds around a serial killer disguised as a librarian. However, as the characters collide, the question remains, who will be the victor?
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From page one I was fascinated by Margo, formally Jane. The amazingly intimate rendering of the two main characters in this book kept the pages turning, even as I knew things couldn't end well for both of them. The descriptions of working in a library are hilariously accurate. I won't be surprised if I find myself Thinking of Margo sometimes when I'm in the stacks or at the accounts desk. A thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable read.
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I enjoyed How Can I Help You by Laura Sims. This is a twisty little tale about two librarians in a quaint, quiet little town. This was a quick and fun read. Laura Sims is a writer to watch!
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this digital ARC.
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Trust me when I say this does not go where you're expecting it it. 
Library Journal review forthcoming. I will update with a link once it's posted.
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Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC! 

What a fun twisty little book! As a librarian, the descriptions of how a library actually functions (rather than a glossy, perfect version of a library) was refreshing. Nice little cat and mouse story!
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My mind is still reeling from this. I had to sit after I finished the last chapter and just absorb everything that happened. Definitely an author to look out for.
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This is a pretty quick, easy read but something felt a little too forced for me. The pacing and voice were very odd… maybe it was all the librarian stereotypes that irked me. Not my favorite recently read thriller.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this book. This is more like 3.5 stars, and perfect for current & former librarians (like me) and also fans of books/shows like You. Very creepy narrators with a window into their strange thoughts. I almost wish I hadn't known the general plot before reading because I think it would have felt more surprising, thought there were still some great twists and turns in the story.
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Margo is everyone's favorite small town circulation clerk at their local library.  She is kind, is capable of handling any situation or patron and is simply above suspicion.  That is, until the new reference librarian, Patricia shows up and finds that there is something a bit "off" about Margo.  Based upon small details of her past work life that she has shared, Patricia does what a reference librarian does best - research.  What she finds and suspects about her fellow library employee is shocking and when a death occurs in the library's restroom, Margo is suspiciously the first one on the scene.
  An entertaining look at a small town old-fashioned library, complete with local color characters and typical staff members. This quick read will be an entertaining read for those who work in or enjoy small town libraries.  One quibble is the title: "How Can I Help You?"  Librarians know that to ask"Can I?" refers to the librarian's ability to help--questioning if they are indeed capable.  "May I Help You?"  Offers your expertise and guidance through the library's collections to answer the patron's question and does not call into question the librarian's ability to offer expert assistance.
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A twisted thriller about two librarians. Intriguing, tense, and disturbing!

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!
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I was drawn into this chilling tense book told in dual narratives.A book about librarians a book that kept me on the edge of my seat will be recommending.#netgalley #putnambooks
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I really wanted to like this book, but it fell flat for me.

The story is about Margo aka Jane, a librarian who used to be a nurse. Then there’s Patricia, the new librarian who dreams of being a writer. The story is told from both POVs, so that was a positive for me! The story is a linear timeline, going back and forth between each woman’s perspective. Two deaths occur in this small town, which gets everyone talking. Patricia starts to unravel Margo’s past and Margo starts to suspect Patricia is on to her. 

The plot line was very unique, and I had high hopes. It felt as though as soon as the climax occurred, the book just ended.
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I received an ARC from Negalley and Penguin Group in exchange for an honest review. 

I truly wanted to love this book. A thriller that centered around a librarian?! Yes please! 

The story goes back and forth between Margo and Patricia’s perspectives as Margo attempts to escape her past while Patricia uses it as inspiration. The storyline had potential, but I was really disappointed in how it played how and especially in how it ended. 

None of the characters felt likeable or dislikable- they just existed, which is worse than not being likable, since that means they were forgettable. 

Overall,  this book was a disappointing journey through the lives of two women and their coworkers. I was tempted to DNF half way through and I really wish I had.
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I was lucky enough to win an e-ARC of HOW CAN I HELP YOU by Laura Sims through a Shelf Awareness giveaway. Thanks for the early look, and have a safe and happy weekend!
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Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of How Can I Help You.

I was intrigued by the premise and excited when my request was approved.

I had something different in mind when I began reading. I thought it was going to be more of a cat and mouse game between Margo and Patricia.

Instead, it was a tedious slog of perspectives between Margo and Patricia as they warily circle each other, trying to figure out if the other knows the secrets they're hiding.

Margo reminds me of Jane Toppan, the serial killer nurse from the early 20th century; her thoughts vary wildly from incandescent rage to mild calm, especially when she indulges in her favorite ritual, a bath.

Patricia is a failed novelist, doomed to take a boring day job to support herself and thinking about giving her equally dull boyfriend the heave-ho.

When she discovers Margo isn't who she claims to be, she's hit with a sudden burst of inspiration and begins writing again.

Despite Margo being a serial killer and doing serial killer-y things, the narrative lacks suspense and urgency.

The writing is fine, but the plot sounded repetitive since we're getting Margo and Patricia's reactions at events they're both experiencing.

I didn't really like or dislike Patricia. I did understand her desire and ambition to be a published writer and that she believed Margo's clandestine life was her ticket to achieving literary success.

I think if the author had worked that angle more, there would have been more suspense and drama.

The reader doesn't get to know Patricia or Margo; I was definitely interested in the latter. 

Why was she like this? Has she always felt murder-y? Does she ever get lonely? Think about all the people she's killed?

I wish I had liked this more but I do appreciate the opportunity to read it before publication.
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First off, the author has a lot of the general pace and lingo of a library DOWN! Weird patrons contrast with moments that make you very happy to be helping people. It's a hard thing to get right, but the author nails it.

Secondly, I disliked both the characters (which is a good thing!) From Margo's secrets to Patricia's haughtiness, these are two unlikeable characters playing a game of cat and mouse and a setting usually more reserved for cozy mysteries. Highly recommended!
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Not one, BUT TWO unreliable narrators? SIgn me up. I love a good unreliable narrator, keeps me on my toes. And having two of them felt new and fresh.
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Weirdly, I didn't really enjoy the thriller aspect of this book. There were definitely some similarities between Margo and Joe Goldberg from the You series, but she kind of felt like a Joe knockoff. However, I really loved the depiction of what it's actually like to work in a library. Margo's and Patricia's frustrations echoed frustrations I have had working as a circulation clerk and as a librarian. Most books I read that feature the inner workings of public libraries don't do it right, but Sims must either be a librarian or be close to one, because she really hit the nail on the head.
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A psychological thriller with two female leads. I had zero expectations for this book, but I was hooked from the first page. I especially loved the reference and connection to the 1962 novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Thank you to the publisher, GP Putnam’s Sons, the author, Laura Sims, and NetGalley for the advance ready copy. The publication date is July 18, 2023. It’s not too lengthy, which makes it the perfect beach read.
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