Cover Image: Circle of Doubt

Circle of Doubt

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Member Reviews

Really enjoyed this book, plenty of twists and turns, had my gripped till the end. Definitely worth a read!
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Intense from the beginning with someone lurking outside the home of a family and looking at their child through the window. The question is who is it? 
I enjoyed how the chaptwrs were split into the different character perspectives; one being from Isla's adoptive parent Emma and one being from her birth parent who wants her back. The ending was great- no loose ends and it didn't feel rushed as sometimes thrillers can be. Solid 4 stars from me. If you enjoyed Dorothy Koomson's novel 'The Friend' you will enjoy this.
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Emma, Dele, and their daughter Isla move to a small town.  Emma is already struggling to fit in when a new family moves in, and the wife, Tatjana, alienates Emma even further.  Isla is adopted and Emma feels that the Tatjana looks like Isla's birth mother and even scarier, seems to take a special interest in Isla while shutting Emma out.  The story is primarily narrated by Emma, with chapters thrown in from an unknown sinister voice.

This book seemed pretty straightforward to me for much of it and I was wondering if that was all there was.  However, the author starts throwing some interesting twists out in the 2nd half of the book and there are definitely some surprises.  I was completely caught off guard by one of the twists in the latter part of the book. 

I thought Emma's lack of confidence and the extreme bitchiness of the other moms got pretty old, but both of these areas improved as the book continued.  I also thought that the ending tied things up just a little too neatly to seem plausible, though I appreciated the sentiment.

Overall, a decent read that mixes mystery with questions around family bonds.  I think it was worth the read even though it wasn't my favorite.  Thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC of Circle of Doubt by Tracy Buchanan.

Emma and Dele have everything they could ask for after adopting their daughter Isla nine years before.  They knew she was coming from an unsafe parentage, but now they could give her all of the love and security she would ever need.  

But everything gets shaken up when a new family moves into the neighborhood, and while the mother of the family is posh, popular and well liked, Emma senses something familiar about her.  Not only that, but Emma has noticed small things going wrong in her life, mix ups in communication, and even her own daughter turning against her.  Is this Isla's birth mother, coming back from the past?  

Overall a decent story, it was just a bit over-the-top dramatics.  I struggle to think that after even a fraction of what had happened, would ever bring any of those families to share a similar space ever again.  The characters all felt like campy cartoon character versions of themselves, and the villain of the story was a bit too "mustache twirly" for me.
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This was a great read, enjoyed it thoroughly, great storyline and loads of twists and turns , highly recommend this book x
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Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this ARC.  This book started out creepy and menacing. Then it switches to a normal family trying to get ready to start the day. The book alternated between the creepy, menacing chapters and the more "normal" chapters.  I felt Isla sounded to grown up for only being 10.   Dele was such a minor character I don't really know what to say about him.. The  book was well-written and  thought the "Facebook" transcripts  seemed very real and typically bitchy. There were so many characters it was hard for me to keep everyone straight. Emma to me was kind of pathetic. The reveal completely surprised me.  The ending/epilogue was a little to pat for me.
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Tracy Buchanan has crafted an outstanding domestic thriller that relies heavily on its characters. Focussed on interpersonal relationships, ‘Circle of Doubt,’ to be published January 5, 2021, explores the potential for evil in a seemingly perfect neighbourhood. It is a richly layered and utterly immersive read. 

Emma and Dele Okoru, a biracial couple, adopt a beautiful little girl and move to fictional Forest Grove to start family life in an idyllic location. This picturesque village is on the edge of a forest and the families who live there embrace nature, walk their children to school, have stay-at-home moms and are heavily involved in the community. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? That’s just on the surface. Just one look at Mums Of Forest Grove Facebook Group will confirm your doubts. Everyone looks perfect, but the snarky and petty comments left on the feed show the residents’ true colours. The Okorus have their share of skeletons in the closet, but they are united in their focus of providing their daughter Isla with the best childhood. As soon as Emma meets the other neighbours at school pick up, her insecurities about her capability of mothering Isla start to surface. These insecurities are compounded as soon as the new neighbours move in and the wife looks disturbingly similar to Isla’s birth mom. 

Tatiana and Lawrence Belafonte, another biracial couple, are the dream team of Forest Grove. Everyone envies and aspires to be the Belafontes. Not only do they have a to-die-for new home, luxury vehicles, fashion-forward apparel and a big bank account, but they also seem like the perfect match. In fact, it’s Tatiana’s ‘too perfect’ persona that repels Emma and ignites her deep dive into her neighbour’s past.  Tatiana’s perfection, both in-person and online, is just what struggling mothers don’t need - more strain to add to the already heavy load of community pressure. 

What a deliciously wicked read! I absolutely loved this gripping thriller and devoured it in one sitting. The idea of a perfect family fascinates us even when we know, at some level, that there’s no such thing. Tracy Buchanan explores this issue as she exposes the stresses society puts on mothers to be perfect. It was made ‘next level’ fantastic with the addition of the Facebook posts and the stalker’s perspective. They added to the characterization and plotline because readers could get a glimpse of each neighbour’s true character and they give readers a feel for the vibe of the community. One particular post had me giggling; Dele was described as “living in hipster-snowflake hell.” In addition to interpersonal relationships clouded by feelings of inadequacy, Buchanan also highlights how grief affects us and what coping mechanisms we employ to allow us to walk through the trauma. How refreshing for a five star read to have no guts, gore, sex or profanity! I love Buchanan’s writing style. She has the ability to insert unexpected twists and turns into her writing, producing a binge-worthy read. This may be my first introduction to Buchanan, but I’m definitely going to read book 1 in the Forest Grove series and put her on my ‘go-to’ list. 

Thank you Tracy Buchanan, Amazon Publishing UK, Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for this fantastic advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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I enjoyed this book. Once the identify of the narration directed at Isla was revealed the story picked up. There were a lot of issues packed in one and they could have been better developed and revealed in the story. I thought that the ending was good.
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I'm a big fan of this author and have read all her books. This one was good too. I was a little confused as the setting and some characters are the same from Wall of Silence, not sure if that was intentional? But it doesn't matter. The plot was tense from the start, the connection between Emma, Dele and Isla was warming, and the mystery was exciting. I did figure out a couple of the twists early on, but they were pulled off in a way that was satisfying. A good read overall.
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Emma and Dele’s dreams came true nine years ago when they adopted their daughter, Isla. It felt like fate, like they were meant to find each other, and now they’re living the life they always wanted. But then one day a new family moves into Forest Grove—and Emma can’t shake the chilling feeling that the wife looks just like Isla’s birth mother. Emma tells herself that this sophisticated stranger can’t possibly be the troubled woman she remembers from the adoption. But as they get to know each other and it becomes clear that Tatjana has a special interest in Isla, her suspicions grow. When small things start to go wrong and her parenting abilities are brought into question, Emma feels undermined, turning to her sister Harriet for support. But things only spiral further when secrets from her past suddenly resurface. With rumours swirling, Emma begins to doubt herself. Could Tatjana be Isla’s birth mother? And, with everything that’s happening, is Emma the right person to be raising her daughter at all? 

This is Buchanan's second book set in Forest Grove and was an aspect I was really excited about. Forest Grove is the perfect setting for a thriller; stunning from the outside but with deadly secrets lurking within its midst. Plus a returning setting means returning characters which is always a bonus. 

Back to this read and Buchanan has written a secretive, twisting read that will have you hooked. I was engrossed in this very early on and in particular I enjoyed how this was written. We have our regular chapters and then chapters set in another's perspective that slowly hints at the truth, plus chapters featuring Forest Grove's Facebook page which provides the reader with an insight to the characters mindset. This read is full of twists but more than this, it is a very secretive read. The book is all about the characters having secrets and Buchanan hints at these throughout and then slowly reveals them. Some are more shocking than others but all of them have a place and all inject more excitement to the read. 

I have touched on the characters already but I just love this set of characters. Buchanan has created an array of quirky characters and they all bring something to the read. They have their eccentricities but they have their secrets too and it is these secrets that will prove to be important. 

I just loved reading 'Circle of Doubt', the setting is perfect, the atmosphere intense and the characters are in possession of dark secrets that will soon out themselves causing shockwaves through this idyllic, claustrophobic setting. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for an advance copy.
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To start, I love the cover of the book. The colour is pleasing and the circle of thorns is very fitting.

The title, Circle of Doubt, really describes my feelings about the book. As I was reading it I had my doubts that I would be able to give a positive review. 

The story is about a young biracial couple moving into a “perfect” community with their adopted daughter. Right from the beginning, the mother had trouble fitting in with all the “perfect” mothers. Then strange things started happening, making her doubt her sanity. She thought that someone was trying to make her look like a bad mother. They were.

In today's reading world, there is a glut on the market of psychological thrillers. In order to stand out from the others, there has to be a unique aspect to the characters or storyline. The story just did not have these aspects.

I could not identify with the main characters, they seemed very insipid. The “perfect” mothers of the community were just plain bitchy. They followed their leader all the way. I don't need characters or a storyline that is realistic because I read to be entertained. I can't even figure out if they were realistic or not, I found them annoying. This was just a struggle.

Then, around the 70% mark of the book, the twists and turns started and it really did get interesting. The things that happened really did surprise me and I found some redemption in the rest of the book. I finished reading the book on an up note but it took me too long to get there.

I see that there are many positive reviews for Circle of Doubt. Perhaps it was just the wrong time and place for me to read this book. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance reader's copy of the book.
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Really enjoyed this book. It’s based on your own doubts and the way that you can take one thing one way and turn it into a spiral or circle or doubt which is the best way to describe this book.
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A disclosure in the first chapter and I was convinced I knew where this was going. Nope, not even close.  This story was a plethora of strained situations: family dynamics, a 10 year old that was a little too sweet and understanding, neighborhood gossips (and how easily THOSE heads were turned), revenge, mental health, marriage issues, maternal love……..it had it all. The big “aha” moment in the book was then followed by another one making for a real page turner. My only letdown was that I felt the final chapter was wrapped up too tightly with a bow for all the excitement that preceded it.
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In the first chapter I though, Oh No!, and then I went along and enjoyed this intense journey.  I was definitely pulled into the story immediately.  This is the second book in the Forest Grove series taking place in a “picture perfect” village.  Of course everything is not what it seems, and that is true in this community.

Full of tension and doubt, this is a fantastic getaway from normal life.  The author talks about writing this book during the Covid pandemic.  I read it while the world is still in the pandemic and it definitely took my mind off what the world is facing.  I was focused on the Forest Grove village and what would be the outcome of the situation occurring there.  I think the author did an amazing job creating this plot.  The characters were believable and flawed, which makes them real to me.

I read the first book, Wall of Silence, in this series and do think it is good to have the background knowledge of the village before reading Circle of Doubt, but each book can be read independently and enjoyed fully.  In addition, I want to add that I love the book cover!

I want to thank NetGalley and  Amazon Publishing UK, Lake Union Publishing for giving me the pleasure of reading the advance reader copy, with no obligation to write a review. My review is done freely as a hobby, and is totally my own opinion, not influenced by receiving the ARC.
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Already feeling like a bit of an outsider in her own community of Forest Grove, Emma begins to doubt herself more with the arrival of glamorous Tatjana and her family.  And even though it would be nearly impossible, she can't help thinking how much Tatjana looks like Emma's own adopted daughter, Isla, who she saved from a terrible home life as a young child.  Emma's husband, Dele, thinks it's just her self-consciousness causing her to make this comparison, but the more she gets to know Tatjana, the more she can't stop thinking about it.  

Why else would Tatjana gives Isla so much extra attention?  And all those subtle shots she takes at Emma - making her seem like an uncapable, forgetful mother who works too much.  Emma knows she's not imagining that!  And of course the gossipy school mom clique fawned over Tatjana from the get-go and take any opportunity they can to make Emma feel inferior.  Could Tatjana be setting the stage to move in and take Emma's place as Isla's true mother?   Emma's determined to dig into Tatjana's past, if only to alleviate her concerns and settle the matter once and for all.  At least, that was the plan...

Just when you think that you know where the story is going, it takes a turn you won't see coming.  I knew it couldn't be as straightforward as it seemed, and I wasn't disappointed!   The seemingly idyllic community of Forest Grove holds many secrets and you'll find yourself racing through the pages trying to uncover each one.
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Thought this started off slow and was repetitive. But as I got further into the book it had more oomph to it. Ended up having a great twist I didnt see coming. Overall was a good book.

Thanks to the Author, the publisher and NetGalley for an early release of this book.
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May contain spoilers: Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book as an ARC in return for a honest review.  I really enjoyed this book!  The book follows Emma and Dele who are a married couple with an adopted daughter.  They have moved to a new neighborhood and seem to be doing well until they get new neighbors who seem to be too interested in their daughter.  Emma starts to believe that the new neighbor is actually the biological mother of her child.  She becomes paranoid and as time goes on has good reason to believe something is array.  When the truth came out on who was actually the one gaslighting Emma it was a surprise!  In addition, Emma also has a secret that she has tried for many years to hide.  It was a quick read and enjoyable.  I would recommend.
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Wow, this is one review that is hard to write. I really wanted to love this book as the plot line is right up my alley and I LOVE the cover too. I am sorry to say this just didn't do it for me. I found myself getting bored by the same thing happening over and over again. We have a female protagonist who is fooled by the most obvious things and seems more concerned with being popular than the safety of her daughter.

The book started out strong  and then quickly falls into mediocrity, nothing happened for a long time and the petty infighting, of the school moms, on FaceBook got on my nerves quite quickly...it was becoming absurd. Do women really treat each other that way nowadays? I thought mothers were worried about bullying?  I didn't connect with any of the characters, so didn't really care what happened to them except for ten year old Isla, she was so precocious...LOVED her! 

This was a very short read at 209 pages as a .PDF so it was easy to get through at least. I have now had three books in a row that were pretty bad so maybe it is me and not the book. I seem to be in the minority of reviewers, so please take my review with a grain of salt. You may enjoy this book, as did many other readers.
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Set in the fictional town of Forest Grove, the story centers on Dele and Emma Okoru, the adoptive parents of ten-year old daughter, Isla.  As Emma struggles with insecurities about her personality and mothering abilities, especially as the white mother of a mixed race daughter, these are intensified when the rich, glamorous new couple, architect Lawrence and fashion designer Tatjana Belafonte, move to the village.  Emma is quick to notice that Tatjana, who is black, looks like a matured version of Jade Dixon, the seventeen year old, heroin-addicted girl who gave birth to Isla.  When Tatjana takes a particularly keen interest in Isla and mysterious events start happening that call into question Emma’s character and mothering skills, Emma is firmly convinced that Tatjana is actually Jade returned to take Isla away from her.

The story is told in a dual narrative.  In one there’s the unreliable narrator Emma, who is sharing the daily unfolding of events, as she struggles to fit into the mean girl, catty mom culture of Forest Grove, where her every action is handled by the judge and jury panel of ladies who are members of the Mums of Forest Grove Facebook Group, which Emma doesn’t belong to.  We also find out she has a hidden, mysterious past that she fears could threaten her custody of Isla, were it to come to light.  In the other narrative, we have a series of inner monologue style “letters” to Isla, where someone clearly intent on getting Isla back unfolds their plan, while disparaging Isla’s “fake” parents.  Each effort to undermine Emma is explained in a birds-eye view by this person, creating the unsettling feeling of how far they might go to get what they want, as the story shows them upping the ante with each new action against her.

The story does an excellent job of creating the dynamic tension between characters and displaying the fickle allegiances of various members of the community, especially the ladies. Those women are simultaneously awful and awesome.  It was well-paced, suspenseful, and the main characters, at least, felt fully formed.  The plot was intriguing, and the story did a great job of showing Emma’s isolation in her increasing desperation to prove her theory to her loving, but skeptical husband and others, that Tatjana really is Jade and that she really is plotting against her.  There were two fantastic twists that I didn’t see coming at all - and both really elevated the story for me. 

One minor issue that was mildly irritating is Buchanan’s borderline comical overuse of exclamation points.  Really - the majority of them weren’t necessary and gave the writing a more amateurish feel than it should have had.  Oh … and this particular gem of writing:

“The large window looking towards the garden was smashed, glass shattered on the carpet, the blinds covering the window tangled and broken.  Lying among the glass was a boulder from the rockery outside.

Somebody must have thrown it through the window!”

Barring a rock sprouting wings, I’m fairly certain that could have been deduced without need of telling me, but hey … to each their own.

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this one and enjoyed it thoroughly!

★★★★ 

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.  #CircleofDoubt #NetGalley
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Thank you NetGalley for this advanced copy. Great book! I don't think I have read Tracy before but this was a great start. Man did I think i had it figured out until the loop she threw at the end. Great characters. Great suspense. I also enjoyed the different formats/voices coming out. Highly recommended!
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