Cover Image: How Can I Help You

How Can I Help You

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Member Reviews

How Can I Help You is a delicious slow-burn suspense novel. Sims skillfully crafts creepy characters full of secrets, dark obsessions, and twisted moral compasses. This one will leave you feeling slightly unsettled and looking at your local librarian just a little differently 😅

Thank you to Putnam Books and NetGalley for providing a digital copy of How Can I Help You in exchange for an honest review! How Can I Help You hits shelves July 18, 2023.
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Library staff will get a kick out of this story! 
The beginning of this story was a page turner. However, during the middle of this, I became somewhat bored and  the story seemed repetitious. To my surprise the story picked right back up and what an ending.
A must read for any public library staff.
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I liked this tale of psychological issues.. It took a while for the other main character to be introduced. Some of the actions seemed a bit implausible, but I was still entertained and looked forward to reading it. The ending felt pretty rushed to me.  Good idea, pretty well executed, and I'd read more from the author.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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HOW CAN I HELP YOU by Laura Sims is a slow burn that shouldn’t be missed.

  Every day for the past two years Margo has spent her day at the circulation desk of a small public library and her nights hiding from the world. She deals with the patrons and staff alike with a smile and a calming manner. All is well in her world until the new research librarian, Patricia comes on the scene. Patricia, who aspired to be an author and finally gave up after one too many rejection letters soon witnesses a very strange occurrence that she cannot seem to forget between Margo and a patron in medical trouble. This piques her interest and she does what she’s sworn not to do, she starts writing about it. The more she watches Margo and learns about her past, the more Patricia digs in trying to find the truth. As a research Librarian, she knows what she’s doing. 

  As the police investigate the occurrence with the patron, Patricia investigates Margo and the more she unearths, the more she fills in the blanks in writing a story about Margo and her past. As her research unfolds, Patricia comes upon knowledge she is not sure what to do with. Everything comes to a head before Patricia decides what to do with her findings.

  The writing style of Ms. Sims lends to an easy, enjoyable read. I could feel the whoosh of the library doors opening, smell the tang of old books and hear the murmurs of the other patrons in the library. Miss Sims did a fine job in keeping my interest and keeping me entertained. I look forward to reading more of her work.

  Thank you Net Galley for providing me with a free advanced reader copy for an honest review.
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I was a bit obsessed with this book and “enjoyed” it as much as one can “enjoy” a book about murder and obsession.  The author made the compelling comparison of obsession with killing people and obsession with writing!  If you’ve ever become obsessed with something, no matter how small, how good or evil, how unusual—you will relate to the power of obsession and how it takes over one’s life.  If you’re up for a fast-paced entangled thriller with two intertwined obsessed women--read it, read it.

Thanks to NetGalley and G. P. Putnam and Sons for the Advanced Review Copy.
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3.5 stars.  This one is quite unsettling.  The characters are just icky and leave you feeling like you need a long hot bath (which will make great sense if you actually read this one) to cleanse yourself.  There is not one likeable person within these pages, yet you can't look away as you watch them on a path to destruction.  Margo is just plain old crazy, but quite a fascinating brand of crazy.  And Patricia (pronounced Pah-tree-see-uh of course) follows close behind as her own demons spark to life simply from being around Margo.  The proverbial train wreck at which we are all ashamed to admit we love to gawk.
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This book was interesting and very dark. It is not really a thriller, more of a slow-burn suspense novel. Great “bad” characters.
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How Can I Help You is written in two perspectives of women who work at a library and one of them has a previous life as a bad nurse that she is trying to run from. The story takes place when they both work together at the library and their lives start to intertwine. The author makes you feel like you are there in the moment with great descriptions that bring the story to life. The beginning of the book was a little slow for me as we learned the background and what led up to main events. Part of me felt like there was a lot of story untold at the end. The overall story line kept me interested and I wanted to know what was going to happen.

I’m not sure I would call this a thriller but maybe more of a mystery. Spelling mistakes in a few spots throughout the book stood out to me as I was reading as well. Good, quick easy read.
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Margo works at the circulation desk of a library in a small town desperately trying to escape her former life & remain anonymous. Patricia is looking to start over after failing to publish her novel. Neither of them is prepared for how their meeting will change everything. 

I really enjoyed the character development and how both Margo & Patricia became who they were meant to be in the end. Although at times their interactions felt way more forced than probably intended, they did have a repertoire that worked well. The supporting characters were also given just enough focus to make them memorable but not overshadowing to the story itself. 

There are some authors who are able to seamlessly switch character points of view, but unfortunately Sims is not one of those - at least not in this book. A lot of the switch appeared as if it was just retelling what was already told while simply adding in a couple of more lines to be like yeah I’m a new point of view. I’m also a little wary about this being classified as a mystery/thriller. For the most part there’s no real mystery about what’s happening & where the story will end up if anything maybe a form of psychological  thriller - even though thriller still isn’t too accurate. 

Overall, the story was engaging and toward the middle the pace was steady and kept you turning the page. 

Thank you #NetGalley & Penguin Group Putnam for providing me with an ARC of #HowCanIHelpYou for my honest review
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How Can I Help you is a dark, suspenseful  book. I wouldn’t really call it a mystery or thriller though. The book follows Margo/Jane, a former nurse who “disappeared” after being accused of countless premature deaths and now works in a small town library. We get two different POV, one from Margo (formerly Jane “killer nurse”) and Patricia who is the wannabe writer that is the new reference librarian. While working with Margo, Patricia is inspired to start writing again, with Margo as her muse. The book is interesting with the first half flying by. The second half drags a little as we are hearing the same scene twice, once from Margo and once from Patricia. While this does slow the story line down a bit, it didn’t bother me and I was excited to see how everything was going to end. As a book lover, the library setting with it’s patrons was nice and I could easily imagine this was the library in my home town. Overall, I enjoyed How Can I Help You and look forward to reading other books by the author. 

Thank you NetGalley and Putnam / Penguin Random House for sending this book for review considerations. All opinions are my own.
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I have mixed feelings about this book. It was well-written and even before I read it, the premise sounded very promising. The premise drew me in immediately and that was what made me want to read this book.

The first quarter of the book lived up to its promise and had my full attention. But then it started to drag on, especially when reading the exact same scene from a different perspective. I kept wanting to push the story forward and started skimming lines, which is a sign that the pacing is too slow for me.

I also didn't care for the characters or their decision-making skills. Both the main characters kept blurting out really incriminating details about themselves, one of them keeping mementos from their previous life when they supposedly wanted/needed to start a new one, and the other leaving items behind in places they shouldn't. I found it hard to believe that the characters could be that reckless.

I think the book definitely has potential but it was the things I mentioned that really got to me and made it impossible for me to give it a higher rating than 3 stars.
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How Can I Help You was much more twisty and turny than I expected based on the description. I'd categorize this one as part thriller, part character study of two VERY complicated women. Each chapter unveiled just a bit more about Margo and Patricia, allowing the reader to see the ways in which they were very similar to each other, as well as the small ways each woman misunderstood or underestimated each other. I loved how much the women actually needed each other, whether it was a need to be seen/connected with or a need to be inspired. There wasn't as much action as I might have expected from the genre label assigned to the book, but for me it was very engaging and enthralling. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book!
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What a fabulous twisty story this was! I absolutely loved the interplay between Margo/Jane and Patricia, as well as the cast of quirky librarians and patrons. I too am a librarian, and was tickled at the observations and complaints that Margo made about her patrons. 

The tone and pacing were perfect for the tale being told and the revelations were rolled out in a deliciously teasing way that made the story very engaging. I loved the way writers were painted as being willing to use absolutely everything around them, and found the dark humor and snarky cynicism to be both poignant and perfectly spot on. 

This was a fabulous and fun read!
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How Can I Help You
by Laura Sims
Margo/Jane and Margo/Jane and Patricia were all interesting characters. I was invested in the P.O.V of each, and what made Patricia become such an easy Alli to Margo/Jane. Patrica galloped right down the rabbit hole. It was an entertaining book, and the ending was just wow, wow, and wow.
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The premise of "How Can I Help You," by Laura Sims, is an interesting one- the lives of two librarians become intertwined with one another in what ultimately becomes a fight to determine which of them will be able to hold onto this new life that they've begun over in a small town. Margo is a former nurse running from her disgraced past and the suspicion surrounding her interactions with former patients who died while under her care. Patricia is a recent graduate who is trying to forget her past as a writer with a failed novel. When Patricia becomes suspicious of Margo's behavior and delves into her past, she discovers that Margo is not quite who she has pretended to be- instead, she is a dangerous women fighting murderous urges that will ultimately consume her. 

As much as I enjoy books with dual narrators (in this case, Margo/Jane and Patricia), I found myself more interested in Patricia's story and how her discovery of Margo's past reawakened the urge to begin writing a new book. As macabre as it might sound for a person to be so transfixed by a murderer in their midst, even to the point of not turning that person in to the police for fear of not being able to finish writing the book that has begun to consume their life, it makes sense in the context of the world in which we currently live. Think of all of the people in this world who watch television shows, listen to podcasts, or read books about serial killers. 

I had difficulty connecting with the Margo/Jane character- ultimately, as interesting as her story might have been, there was little about the character to like. It would've been nice to perhaps include a bit of information that could somewhat explain why she developed such a desire to murder others, and why she felt the need to watch a person's life end in such an intimate manner. As vile as a character's behavior might be, as a reader, I want to be able to understand the how and why such behavior develops. Otherwise, I don't feel much of anything when that character eventually gets what they deserve, so to speak. 

Overall, I would recommend this book to other readers, especially those who enjoy mysteries and thrillers.
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This was absolutely an accurate account of life working in the library, minus a few more troubling issues. 
I loved the characters, the setting, and the ending. I absolutely loved the ending. This was fantastic and perfectly creepy.
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As a book fan, I was so excited to dive into a thriller that revolves around two librarians. However, I struggled to connect with the writing. The narrative style was a bit off-putting and ultimately, too distracting. This novel was not for me, but hopefully it will find fans in other book lovers.
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I will start by saying I don't read a lot of suspense/mystery stories but both the title and description of this book interested me. Overall, I found the story to be engaging and it kept my attention. I did find myself to be a bit annoyed when switching character narratives, the story would sometimes jump back a bit, but not sure how you could've told the story from both perspectives without it. 

I pride myself on seeing exactly where stories are going and this one definitely surprised me. Some details of the story never quite tied things together in the way I expected and left me to wonder the outcome of some situations that weren't resolved in the end. 

I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

#netgalley #laurasims #howcanihelpyou
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Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for this ARC. 

I had very high hopes for this one. It sounded amazing and like a real thrilling ride.

It wasn’t. It dragged on and on and during my fourth time sitting to read more, I had to call it. I DNF. I couldn’t. 

I hope other readers enjoy it though.
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thank you to netgalley and penguin group putam for the ARC!

i wavered back and forth between 3 and 4 stars, so i'm settling on 3.5, rounded up to 4. i rounded up because the drawbacks are due to the publisher's marketing, not the author's actual writing—i'll get to that.

sims has done a pretty compelling job creating unlikeable, yet fascinating characters. i can always appreciate reading about some truly messed up people doing messed up stuff. at the time of writing this, my instagram bio is 'creator chose not to use archive warnings,' which—to those of you who have a social life—is fanfiction parlance for 'this work may or may not have some messed up stuff, so beware.' i have no issue with the dark and twisted, and i think the dark and twisted of this book have been well-executed overall.

so why, publishers, are you setting this poor author up?

i'd never heard of laura sims before i requested this ARC, which has been categorized as a mystery/thriller. this is neither mystery nor thriller, and apparently this is not the first time this author has been incorrectly marketed! i checked the goodreads reviews for looker, and to my bemusement, many of the low-rated reviews repeat the same things i was thinking when i began reading.

"what did i just read?" ... "marketed as a thriller for basically no reason" ... "wasn't anything thrilling about it" ... "not as described" ... etc, etc, etc.

if looker is anything like this book, i can understand the disappointment and the confusion! 

i'm not sure what i'd market this as. i guess this is one of the drawbacks of such rigid genres; i don't know, i don't work in publishing, and my own manuscripts are nowhere near querying, but this is a flaw of the industry. don't market this as mystery/thriller, for the love of all things mysterious. batman: knightfall is more mystery/thriller than this, and i skipped half of that out of boredom. this is not badly written, and there is very much a niche of readers like myself who dig the creepy. marketing this as mystery/thriller will undoubtedly turn off people expecting mystery/thriller readers; i know this because i *was* expecting a mystery/thriller, and it's only a stroke of luck that i happened to not be too disturbed to finish. i know for certain most mystery/thriller readers will not expect to read something like this, and the poor author will suffer just because her book has been incorrectly marketed.

i can't wait to see what the cover will look like! i'm pretty excited for that!
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