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Sudden Secrets

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One Secret

Cleo has struggled to heal after her baby sister's death, but the flashbacks to the accident won't go away. With the move, she vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid pitying looks.

One Mystery

Something's strange about the abandoned house across the street-flashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see.

Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isn't, and she's sure whoever is inside is watching her.

Another Secret

In one night, Belleza's life changes forever. So famous, her only choice is to hide her secret from the world so she can silence small town bigotry.

Then Cleo happens.

266 pages, Paperback

First published December 18, 2014

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About the author

C. Lee McKenzie

21 books420 followers
I always have free gifts for visitors to my Blog, so stop by. Sign up and get your gift today, and you can see all of my work on Amazon. I'd love to connect with you on Instagram, too!

In my other life--the one before I began writing for teens and younger readers--I was a teacher and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I can say, “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects. Go ahead. Pat me on the back.

My idea of a perfect day is one or all of the following: starting a new novel, finishing writing a blockbuster novel, hiking on a misty morning trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saying Namaste after a great yoga practice, sipping a cappuccino topped at a bustling café, reading in front of a fire with snow outside, swimming in an ocean someplace.

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Displaying 1 - 26 of 26 reviews
Profile Image for ReadAlongWithSue .
2,636 reviews170 followers
June 13, 2015
I read this from beginning to end and the only reason I read it until the end was because I liked the style of writing, but, I was also waiting for something exciting, spooky, something to jump at me, grab me by the throat and take me back into the story again. It never happened.

Its a very well written book, has absolutely lots going for it.

Cleo's life was torn apart years ago when your sister died. The family moved house to try to come to terms with things and move forward, however, for some this just couldn't happen.

The other thing I was waiting to get to was the creepy house. The house next door to them that they had moved to. There doesn't seem to be anyone living there, but Cleo is convinced that there is.

Cleo is right, she does discover someone living there, but its all not as it seems. Now this is where is captured my attention. I was well into giving it 3 stars, then suddenly, without warning it fired up the heat was on and away it went.

I'm really glad now that I requested this to read from Evernight Teen via Net galley on a read to review basis. Its a YA book at its very very best.
Profile Image for T.B. Markinson.
Author 54 books772 followers
March 2, 2015
Cleo is a troubled teenage girl. But it’s not the typical teenage angst. There’s profound sadness and guilt eating away at Cleo and her entire family. The root of the sadness is part of the novel’s mystery. And then there’s the mystery of who lives in the house across the street, which is supposed to be vacant, but there are clues suggesting otherwise.

This story has some wonderful characters and it was nice watching them all grow and face their troubles. The mysteries are always present, but the unraveling is slow in coming. This caused me to keep reading. I do wish that there was more background provided about Cleo’s sister. That mystery intrigued me more than the house across the street.

This is my second book by this author and I’ve been impressed by both.

I was given a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Majanka.
Author 81 books410 followers
April 13, 2015
Book Review originally published here: http://www.iheartreading.net/reviews/...

Sudden Secrets offers contemporary YA at its finest, with a protagonist teenagers will easily relate to. Yet it it also features a mystery and unfortunately, that part falls a little flat.

Cleo and her family struggle to heal after her kid sister passes away. They move to another town, into another house, and try to make the best of it. But her father has run halfway across the world where he works on archeological dig sites and tries to perserve ancient artifacts, leaving her, her mom and her granddad, to deal with the pieces of the family they once were. All of them struggle with guilt, with sorrow, and the author does an amazing job portraying the family’s grief. This is the strong point of the book. The characters feel realistic and have their little quirks (like grandpa and his pet snake, Clyve), and their sorrow feels as real as they do.

After moving, Cleo makes a few friends. She makes them rather fast though, and this didn’t seem very realistic. They do make an interesting group though, with a fun group dynamic. I liked Rudy and Stacy. Although their personalities were quite different, they did match nicely with Cleo’s personality.

The part that didn’t work for me was the mystery. Cleo’s house had an abandoned house next to it, but sometimes the lights turned out. I was expecting the mystery to be a little spooky, or at least suspenseful, but it turned out rather dull and unrealistic. I was like: so that’s why you stayed in the house for decades? Uhm, right. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the reasoning behind it, is a little over the top, and then the sudden change of heart at the end is strange too. I think I would’ve preferred the book without the mystery of the abandoned house, or at least with a mystery that made more snese.

The writing and language were phenomenal, and the dialogue fitted the characters. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so impressed with an author’s writing style.

If you’re looking for a realistic YA novel that deals with guilt and pain, I’d highly recommend this one.
Profile Image for Beverly McClure.
Author 17 books453 followers
February 1, 2015
Sometimes a tragedy occurs in a person’s life, a tragedy so heartbreaking they want to keep it a secret. They try to run away from it, perhaps by moving to a new town, hoping to start over again. But the secret haunts them, and they can’t forget. They shouldn’t forget, for it’s a part of their lives, forever.

SUDDEN SECRETS, Author C. Lee McKenzie’s latest novel for YA readers, is a story the reader won’t forget for a while, at least this reader won’t forget. It’s the tender story of a family falling apart. High school junior Cleopatra Brown, her mother and grandfather, along with Tut, a Great Dane, Nefertiti, a cat, and Clyde, Grandpa’s pet boa, move into a dilapidated old house in a new town. They hope to put the past behind them. Cleo’s father is in Afghanistan “saving pieces of history” rather than being with his family that needs him, especially Cleo. Cleo is supposed to go to a new school and live, like everything is normal. But her life isn’t normal. It never will be again because of the secret she carries with her. Even gorgeous hunk Ethan, funny Rudy and gorgeous Stacy, her new friends, cannot help Cleo forgive herself. My favorite character is Rudy, with his mostly positive attitude that brightens the darker scenes. Then there’s the house across the street that appears to be empty, except for the occasional light Cleo sees through the window and the van that arrived every Saturday morning.

C. Lee McKenzie has woven a tale of mystery and suspense in SUDDEN SECRETS. The effect of the tragedy on the family is believable, and I was hoping they’d resolve their problems and be a family again. Then the author threw in an unexpected surprise, at least to me. And I’m not saying what. Looking back I can see the subtle hints Ms. McKenzie planted along the way. Very nice.

SUDDEN SECRETS may bring tears to your eyes. It did mine. I felt the pain of the family, especially Cleo, as they struggled to survive the past. An enjoyable read that I highly recommend.

Profile Image for Nicole.
644 reviews4 followers
April 3, 2015
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Cleo's family, torn apart by a tragedy - the loss of a young child which Cleo feels responsible for, moves to a new house in the hopes of beginning fresh. The house they choose doesn't improve family relations, but it does offer distraction - a mystery in the form of an "abandoned" house across the street that is full of strange lights and movement. As Cleo's obsession with uncovering who or what is occupying the property grows stronger, she realizes she might just hold the key to a decades old unsolved crime. While I enjoyed the premise and the author's intention of telling a story about healing and forgiveness, the execution was weakened by the use of far-fetched elements and shaky character motives. I found, too, that the language sounded too dated for contemporary teens. It also felt like the four teens in the book were the only kids at school since no other teen characters were really noted. Additional secondary characters could have added a more fulfilling complexity to both the overall plot and the subplots. I did really enjoy some parts of the story. I thought there was a beautiful metaphor about the overgrown yard and emotional landscapes. I liked the connection Cleo believed she maintained with her sister, though I did feel it deserved another nod near the end. I liked how Stacey, a blond vision of perfection, was a nice surprise of a character. There was a real authenticity to Cleo's bleak family dynamic. I just felt like I had a hard time focusing on those because I couldn't see past the holes in the character motivations. While the cover and the summary seem to promise some chilling moments, readers should be aware that this is more mystery than paranormal or horror.
Profile Image for Medeia Sharif.
Author 18 books426 followers
January 30, 2015
Cleo is a girl who’s torn. Her baby sister died not too long ago. She’s racked with emotions, especially since she’s harboring a secret about the death that fills her with guilt. Also, her father is far away, stuck in the Middle East, and things between him and her mother are rocky.

She lives across the street from an eerie house with flickering lights—from a ghost, from a hermit, from someone who also has a secret in her past? Someone in Cleo’s circle desires to torment whoever is in that mysterious house, but Cleo wants to prevent that. There’s someone in there who can possibly help her heal, and maybe Cleo can do something in return.

The thread of secrecy throughout the book was quite intriguing. The novel is serious with a mournful tone, although there’s a light of hope in these pages. Cleo, her family, and the new people in her life can all get better, even when it seems like they’ve been through the worst. This is a satisfying YA read and a great addition to the author’s body of work.
September 1, 2015
I received this book in return for an honest review.

Great ending, but I didn't like this book all that much. It seemed to take forever to get into the story and it kept bringing up this big horrible thing that happened that tore up the whole family but it wouldn't tell you exactly what happened or who's fault it was (though you could assume; you never really knew) it that just bugged the mess outta me. The main character in this book just made me wish someone would bounce her head off some concrete. She was a brat who didn't care what her actions did to others and all she thought about was herself. She helped herself to whatever she felt like. Had I been around her, I would have told her off. I'm glad everything came together at the end though... but I was expecting so much more from this book. It was a let down.

Profile Image for Alexa.
651 reviews35 followers
February 1, 2015
I liked this book.The plot was intriguing and the characters were interesting (especially Rudy; he was great!). Ms. McKenzie did a great job weaving the mystery through the pages, keeping the suspense strong from the beginning to the climax. Although I thought the ending could've been a bit stronger.
If you'd like to read more of my thoughts on this book, you can find the full review at https://verbositybookreviews.wordpres....
Profile Image for Cyrene Olson.
1,196 reviews15 followers
August 6, 2018
A very well written young adult that throws in a bit of a mystery. Cleo’s family has been torn apart by an accident that killed Cleo’s baby sister. Her mother buries herself in work, her father has been in Afghanistan as an archaeologist, and no one knows if or when he’s coming home, and Cleo’s Grandpa barely communicates. When Cleo’s mom moves them to a new town, in a new home, Cleo starts at a new school. She’s lucky though, she makes a few new friends and things seem to be looking up. But the crumbling house across the street that is supposed to be abandoned since the fifties, Cleo has seen lights flicker in the windows, and a van that pulls up every single week.

I like the author gave us great characters to latch onto, Ethan, the handsome jock with his own skeletons and his girlfriend Stacy, who turns out to be the bestie everyone wants, and of course Rudy. Maybe not the most handsome boy in school, but perfect for Cleo.

You’ll have to read the book, but the last 20% of the book, really made this one. I have to admit, it was a bit slow going in the beginning, but the ending pulled a higher rating out of me. Will Cleo’s family ever pick up the pieces? Will the mysteries of the house across the street ever be discovered? The ending was a bit abrupt and it could have been pulled out a little more, but overall, this is an entertaining read and worth the time. Reviewed by Cyrene
Profile Image for Sharon Marie Himsl.
Author 3 books5 followers
December 29, 2018
Secrets rule in this gem of a story, three stories to be exact. There is Cleo's story of her lonely struggle to save her family from a devastating tragedy two years ago that threatens to split them apart and guarantee permanent non-communication. Can her cool parents, an archeologist and a museum curator, finally get their acts together? Cleo is determined to find a way. There are new friendships at Cleo's new high school and the hope of a romance with the cutest guy she has ever seen but looks are deceiving. Secrets reveal a different person under all that charm. Will Cleo notice the guy that really matters? Then, there is the empty Victorian house across the street from where Cleo and her family have just moved. A shadow appears in the window, convincing Cleo that someone lives in the home. What are they hiding from, she wonders? Her research uncovers a mystery concerning the disappearance of two women many years ago, possibly a murder. Cleo involves her friends in the investigation, but in the end, she is left alone to sort things out. A surprise awaits her that just may solve her main problem, keeping her family together. McKenzie connects all three stories together in a clever way. There are interesting side characters too, including Grandpa's snake and a freaked-out cat.
Profile Image for Christine Rees.
Author 3 books62 followers
January 19, 2018
"A YA contemporary bursting with mysteries and realism."

A refreshing story that discusses many issues: alcoholism, the death of a family member, bigotry, self-imposed isolation, and self-worth or "being the man." I loved reading Sudden Secrets because of the realness that stems from those issues while learning about the mysterious house across the way. Sudden Secrets is different from the fantasy and thriller novels I am usually drawn to, but I zipped through this novel in three days. I just didn't want to stop. C. Lee Mckenzie's writing is incredible. I truly enjoyed this read!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
399 reviews
February 15, 2015
Overall Rating: 7.8/10 (3.9/5 stars)
Plot: 6/10
Characters: 8.5/10
Writing: 9.5/10
Originality: 7/10

I was definitely looking forward to reading Sudden Secrets, first mentioned to me by the granddaughter of the author’s friend. It turned out to be a pretty good read too. This is one of those books that makes me groan inside because I can sense the potential in the writing style, how amazing and profound the story could have been. I have faith that McKenzie could write a phenomenal masterpiece in YA lit; unfortunately this just wasn’t it. Young adult readers are often impatient, and booklr culture is more and more leaning toward not continuing with books they don’t find worth it rather than sticking them out until the end. This is what I fear would happen to the more action-oriented readers of Sudden Secrets. However, those who stick it out will find a wholesome story with developed characters and a flowing writing style.

Sudden Secrets’ plot is definitely not its strong suit. I have read many books dealing with tragedies, and some dealing with paranormal-seeming mysteries like this, and what I find Sudden Secrets lacks as opposed to the others is suspense. Cleo’s interest in the house doesn’t seem warranted and it doesn’t give off the feeling of a supernatural urgency that impossibly beckons her; it just feels childish. I was much more interested in the realistic part of the story—the high school drama, character development, and family drama—than the house across the street. Nothing particularly shocking really happens throughout the novel, and the plot line stays pretty much flat the entire time. That for me, with this book leaking potential, was disappointing.

The positive parts of the plot involve the characters’ journeys throughout the novel, which I’ll touch more on later. It never reaches a level where it’s painstakingly tedious to turn the pages, because for the whole book I was waiting for a shocking twist. The climax near the end when Cleo finally solves the mystery of the house isn’t a particularly surprising revelation. The bigger resolution comes when it seems as if the family will finally be able to move on from the tragedy that kept them apart for years. That part of the story felt slightly rushed, but it was very satisfying. I also appreciated McKenzie’s inclusion of diverse characters, and putting some 21st century meaning into the mystery of the house next door.

The characters in this book are well-done. In the beginning of the novel, Cleo is judgmental and sort of rude, especially towards Stacy. Cleo thinks Stacy is the stereotypical blonde popular girl dating the jock, but toward the end she realizes that girl doesn’t really exist in the real world, and everyone has their own problems and worries. I also inwardly groaned when Ethan is introduced in the beginning of the novel, because of Cleo’s infatuation with him that feeds into her jealous feelings toward Stacy. However, even Ethan isn’t all he seems. He isn’t a terrible person, but he isn’t a great one either. I really like Cleo’s character development throughout the novel.

Once again, my main issue with the characters, though on a much lesser level than the plot, is I feel there could have been more. I wanted a little more background on Aziza, and her relationship with Cleo and the rest of the family. I wasn’t too sure about the conflict resolution with Cleo’s family, because it seemed a little out-of-the-blue. Otherwise I think Cleo’s mom and grandfather are great additions to the story, because they’re complex and realistic. Cleo also makes for a good narrator. I can follow her train of thought well and her emotions and thought process are expressed well through the writing.

I really like McKenzie’s writing style in Sudden Secrets. It flows very nicely and smoothly. At times the dialogue was slightly unrealistic, especially with the random and awkward placement of curse words, but otherwise I have no qualms. She’s very good at letting the characters have different voices, especially Bellaza at the end.

Originality isn’t Sudden Secrets' strong suit either. I felt like there was nothing really special, nothing that jumped out at me with this book. I've read a lot of young adult literature, and though I like the twist at the end with the true secret of the house across the street, the rest of the book wasn't unique enough to stay in my memory. The modern, progressive twist at the end (which I've been purposefully general about to avoid spoiling it for anyone) is something that shouldn't be overlooked and should be praised.

Overall: Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie is a heartwarming and realistic book with good characters and a flowing writing style, that however leaves way more to be desired in terms of plot and originality. Action-lovers will have a hard time getting into this book, but the resolution will satisfy those who like contemporary fiction.

Profile Image for Bridie Blake.
Author 3 books81 followers
February 3, 2018
Cleo’s family has fallen apart in the wake of a tragedy. Her dad’s run off to the middle east, her mom’s thrown herself into her work, and her grandpa seems more concerned with Clyde the snake than anything else. Grieving and desperately alone, Cleo finds herself drawn to the mysterious house across the street and the rare glimpses of life she spies through the windows. Uncovering the mystery of the house gives her a purpose, and a distraction from her grief. The mystery was developed well and kept me guessing to the end. I kept thinking I knew what it’d be and was wrong each time!
Cleo’s family situation was heartbreaking to read and I just wanted to reach through the pages and give her a big hug. The friendships she made were developed well and I think we all need a Rudy in our lives. His positivity and outlook on life was exactly what Cleo needed and it went a long way in helping her learn to forgive herself and heal.
Profile Image for T.H. Hernandez.
Author 9 books203 followers
March 13, 2015
Sudden Secrets is a well-written, emotional tale of teen, Cleo, whose family has suffered the tragic loss of Aziza, her four-year-old sister. In an attempt to heal, they relocate to a small northern California town that has its own secrets. Cleo's life is shattered not only by the loss of her sister, but also as the fracturing of her family in the aftermath. Her mom disappears into herself while her father disappears to Afghanistan on an archeological expedition. Even her grandfather withdraws, becoming a shell of his former self. And if that isn't bad enough, Cleo blames herself for the accident that took her sister's life.

Cleo's mom sees the relocation as a chance to heal, Cleo sees it as an opportunity to start over, even if she's not sure that can happen. Cleo runs to escape her pain and when she runs to the nearby high school and meets super-hot Ethan, things are looking up. At least until she meets Ethan's equally hot girlfriend, Stacey.

Cleo manages to begin rebuilding her life, making friends with Stacey, Ethan, and eternally boisterous Rudy. When she notices some odd activity in the supposedly vacant house across the street, the four of them embark on solving the mystery that dates back more than five decades and may or may not involve a local hero.

The plot is multi-pronged with the main plot centering on pain surrounding Cleo and her family, but a strong subplot is the mystery of Belleza and the house across the street. The romance is a minor subplot, which works fine in this case. My only real complaint with the plot is that the romance seems almost irrelevant to the story. It would have been nice if it was intertwined more, not necessarily a bigger part, just more of a factor.

World Building
What there is, is subtle, but the setting isn't terribly important. It's small town Northern California and the author does a good job of evoking that misty, foggy Bay Area atmosphere enough to set the scenes.

This is almost entirely a character-driven story and that's where it really shines. Each character is well-developed, even the secondary and tertiary ones. They all have rich and deep back stories that fit the plot and are never extraneous nor feel forced upon us. We learn about the characters at exactly the right time, when the information is crucial to the story.

The character development is really well done, too. Everyone from Cleo to her family and Belleza across the street grow and develop through the story in very believable, authentic, organic ways.

Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Sudden Secrets
1. The Mystery. I love when an author can pique my interest, keep it, then let that interest bloom and grow by revealing bits and pieces of the secret. C. Lee McKenzie has done a masterful job of this in Sudden Secrets.

2. The Romance. No, it's not the main plot or even a strong subplot, and I did mention that I wished it'd been more integral to the story, but what I enjoyed about it was that it was anything BUT formulaic.

3. Belleza. She's complex, complicated, deep, emotional, loyal, mysterious, and one hundred percent awesome!

4. Cleo. She's extremely likeable, even though she's flawed. She does things that made me shake my head, but I always knew her heart was in the right place. She was a refreshing change from the typical young adult protagonist.

5. Rudy. There is something so infectious about him, that just reading about him made me smile.

Bottom Line
Sudden Secrets is an intriguing story with complex characters that worm their way into your heart.

I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Bri.
222 reviews1 follower
March 22, 2015
I received this book free for reviewing purposes from Net Galley. This did not influence my review or rating in anyway.

When I picked this book up, I expected a typical YA mystery, complete with ghosts wanting revenge and someone out to kill or harm the main character for no reason whatsoever. I thought this would be a light, quick read that I would be able to review on here fast, and get to reading my next book. Well I thought wrong. This book has all of the things you think of when you hear about YA contemporary, only with lots of things you will never see coming.

The book is centered around Cleo moving to a completely new town and home with her mother, grandfather, pet boa, dog and cat. Her father left to find artifacts in Afghanistan and is basically gone as long as he wants to be, so basically months, if not years. Her whole life was torn apart years ago, when her little sister died. Every member in her family seems to blame themselves on it so they all sort of tear apart from each other. Her mother feels that moving will give them all some closure from that stage in their lifes.

The other thing the book is centered around is the creepy, mysterious house next door. No one appears to be living there, but after watching it during the night, Cleo determines there is someone, or something, there.

So before I said this book does not have any ghosts, and that is true. I will tell you as sort of a spoiler that there is a lady living there, but why no one knows about her you will have to read and find out yourself!

Naturally curious, Cleo and some of her friends try to investigate the house, but after one of them tries to go in the house, Cleo realizes the person must want their privacy and doesn't press further. Towards the end of the book she finally talks to her, but about what, you'll again have to find out yourself.

I loved the main character, Cleo. I could really see her growing as a person throughout the story, and I can tell by the end she was a better person. I wish the ending talked about what happened to the characters more, but I am glad for the epilogue.

This book is already released, and I got it on Net Galley. I feel that everyone should go out and buy this book! It isn't very well known and those books need all the support they can get!

Profile Image for Diane Coto.
389 reviews9 followers
April 12, 2015
How to you deal with painful memories? This family ran away. They relocated from Buena Vista to Morgan Heights. Cleo’s mom selected an old (as in ‘needs a lot of work’) Victorian that reminded her of her mom’s house where she had many fond memories. Cleo just saw the ‘work’ part. Cleo’s dad, Derek, was on an extended work opportunity in Afghanistan. She had no idea when he’d return home but she missed him and felt they all needed him now. So, Cleo, her mom, Grandpa Zack, and three pets move into their new (old) home. Aziza is missing. She was Cleo’s little sister who died in a horrific accident. She’s the reason … the memories they hoped to escape.

Cleo is a junior high student and is actually looking forward to the fresh start in school, a new place where people won’t look at her and judge her. The first night, she realizes the ‘vacant’ house across the street doesn’t appear to actually be ‘vacant’ after all. She meets and befriends Ethan Gallagher, the junior class president, Stacy , Ethan’s girlfriend, and Rudy Krantz, his best friend. Ethan takes an obsessive interest in the house across the street. Rudy takes an obsessive interest in Cleo.

I liked Cleo, and felt her pain for the loss of her sister. I fell in love with Rudy who went out of his way to prove to Cleo that he really was interested in her. Grandpa Zach was an odd character who loved Clyde, his pet boa constrictor. He didn’t have a lot to say, but when he did, it made me giggle. I liked that the stereotypical picture of Stacy was broken. Cleo had assumed she was a high maintenance prima donna, but she discovered they actually had a lot in common. Finally, I really liked the mystery surrounding the house across the street. My only concern is the ending. There was an epilogue, but even still I found it to be rather abrupt. This is for teen and young adult readers. I tend to agree — there was no inappropriate content. Rating: 4 / 5.
693 reviews8 followers
May 30, 2015
Originally posted on Gaga Over Books.

Sooo, my reading experience was saddening in regards to the story-line and characters. :/

This could have been soo good but I kinda lost interest because of how attracted Cleo was for the hot popular guy and then for the other guy so suddenly. *pun unintended* And that whole neighbor business. Like I know Cleo was trying to find that solid ground between her family and all that but I dunno I just-- the whole plot fell freaking flat for me.

I was so interested in the beginning but as the story progressed I lost sight. Like that whole mystery didn't really-- like there was no need for all that interfering in peoples business stuff. I can understand some of her actions cos of her fam situation but well, still, not completely sold out on it.

And don't get me started on the characters. I was kinda annoyed with Cleo most of the time. Cos of all that dating business.

I did love Cleo's grandpa and that pet snake. And the metaphors were kinda nice.

Anyway, this book was a-okay for me. :(

Rudy went to Grandpa and helped him out of his draped boa, putting Clyde around his own neck. Clyde settled in by slowly slipping around him, then coiling into his lap when Rudy sat at the table again.

Okay. That's the pet snake Clyde. Gosh.

I would like to thank the author for this reviewing chance.
407 reviews9 followers
March 20, 2015
Sudden Secrets is definitely a story where multiple characters have secrets that at some point in their lives occurred during a sudden unexpected event. Discovering what these secrets are as the story unfolds keeps the reader interested. The character development is good however I did have one small issue. The grandfathers pet may have been explained and I missed it but I did not notice a explanation as to the origin of the pet. I guess you really don't need an explanation as to why a person has a pet but in this circumstance it seems like some background story was warranted. Like I said I might have missed it as I was very ill while reading this book.

The other thing that bothered me was the ending. More precisely the timing in the ending. There is a chapter that is located before the epilogue that in my opinion should be included in the epilogue. I won't go into any details because of spoilers. The chapter location prior to the epilogue makes it very quick resolution to a two year traumatic event if it were located in the epilogue the resolution and healing could have been perceived by the reader to have occurred over time creating a less rushed feeling to the ending of the story.

This is a youth novel and is well written. These two minor concerns should in no way keep anyone from reading this book. The story is very good and I will be looking for more from C. Lee McKenzie.
Profile Image for Ginascozylibrary.
19 reviews10 followers
February 9, 2015
Sudden Secrets is such an enjoyable book. It's highly engaging and filled with emotion. Young readers will not want to put it down.

As soon as the mysteries started to unfold with the protagonist's past and present, I was hooked. Cleo, the main character, is curious, emotional and mildly outgoing. Since we spent a lot of time getting to know her, she is easy to relate to. I suffered as she suffered through her little sister's death and abandonment by both her mother and father and even her grandfather at times.

When Cleo's curiosity about the house across the street starts to take over her life, she becomes more like a detective, opening secrets left and right. As the relationship grows with the strange woman who lives across the street, Cleo opens up more about her own devastating past. It is truly intriguing.

Throughout the book, Cleo has three friends from school; Ethan, Stacy and Rudy. It was nice to see how they all bonded, even though they had their differences. Ethan ended up being a jerk so when Cleo finally came to her senses and went for the good guy, Rudy, it made the book even more enjoyable.

All in all, I loved every character in this story and felt the pain most of them endured. When Cleo's dad finally returns home, I even cried! Now that is good writing!
Profile Image for The Pink Bookshelf.
113 reviews18 followers
June 7, 2015
Cleo has just moved to a new town with her family. The move is supposed to be a fresh start for her family and to hopefully start the healing process after a tragic accident two years ago. With the fresh start, Cleo wants to keep her family’s tragedy a secret and leave the past behind.

Cleo is still having flashbacks of the horrible accident that took her sister and her family still seems to be stuck and not moving forward. The old abandoned house across the street is holding secrets, Cleo is sure of this. She is certain that there is someone inside watching her.

The mystery of the storyline kept me hooked and had me anxiously turning the pages. Even though I didn’t get very emotionally attached to the characters, I felt that the writing was strong enough that the characters came to life. Even the smallest details in the writing were expressive and moved the storyline forward smoothly.

Cleo’s grandpa reminds me a lot of my grandfather when he was alive. A man of few words but very wise. Even though he didn’t talk much, I found myself giggling at his little phrases. It was like I could hear my Papaw. Little words, but he got the point across.
Profile Image for Bish Denham.
Author 6 books36 followers
October 17, 2016
With the death of Cleo's younger and much loved sister, her family falls apart. To try to get away from bad memories her mother moves Cleo and her grandfather, to an old Victorian style house in a new town. Meanwhile Dad, an archaeologist, is hiding at a dig in Afghanistan while her mother, a museum curator, hides in her work and is rarely home. Cleo's grandfather, once the jokester, seems more interested in his pet snake and TV and rarely says more than a few words at any given time.

Cleo is pretty much left to her own devises and, though riddled with guilt and anger and loneliness, manages to make a few new friends at her new school. Then there's the mysterious rundown house across the street. Although it seems abandoned and empty, Cleo is sure someone is living there. But who is it, and why has the person locked him/herself away from the world?

I liked Cleo a lot. She doesn't know how strong she is until it really counts. This is a story about loss and rebuilding on a several different levels. How Cleo goes from being haunted by the past to living in the present is a journey many of us has to make. Her story is familiar and unique at the same time.
Profile Image for Susie  Price.
97 reviews
April 29, 2015
Sudden secrets is an intruiging, emotional and very enjoyable book. I have to say I was gripped from the start. As the secrets unfold the reader gets hooked into the storyline of Cleo and her family. I don't want to to say too much about the plot as it would definatly ruin it for the reader which would be a great shame. Deeply atmospheric in parts, Lee Mckensie does a great job of setting the scene and bringing the characters to life. Sudden secrets is a compelling, fast paced mystery, building in suspense throughout the book keeping you dying to know what happens next. I really enjoyed this book and definatly recommend it!
Profile Image for S.K. Gregory.
Author 118 books198 followers
February 21, 2015
Cleo lives with her rather eccentric family, her mother and grandfather, after the death of her little sister. Her father has left the country to escape his pain and when her mother moves her to a new house, she feels more alone than ever before. When she sees movement in the house opposite, the mystery draws her in. Along the way she makes new friends and attempts to put her family back together. Well written, with a great main character, this book kept me hooked. I would definitely recommend it.
364 reviews12 followers
March 23, 2015
although this is a "teen" book, I enjoyed the story. What's not to like....a young girl whose grandfather has a pet boa constrictor, an old house across the street with a mysterious person inside, a dog, a cat, a mother who is lost in a past tragedy, and the guilty feelings about the cause of death of her younger sister. Very well written book.
Profile Image for Mandy Pinoteau.
112 reviews1 follower
March 21, 2015
Received this for free through a goodreads giveaway,and I'm glad I read it but was a bit disappointed,I expected more from it. The story itself was good, the writing was nice but all of the characters felt flat to me,because of this it just wasn't an exciting read for me personally.
433 reviews1 follower
January 3, 2018
I'm not sure what this story is about. The story meanders around several themes that run concurrently through the book, but none is delivered with much depth. The characters are lackluster. The ending lacks impact because it has not been woven throughout and seems tacked on to the end. An insipid start, flat-lining middle and the bump of interest at the end peters out to nothing.
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