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Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie

Price:
$4.99
SKU:
978-1-77233-167-7


Product Description

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.

14+ due to adult situations

 

Excerpt:

It had been a terrible and very long journey from that tragic Christmas to now, and I couldnt think about losing another one of us. Wed each done all we could to live without Aziza.

Dad went as far away as possible from where the accident happened. Mom sold our    house and moved us to a new town. Still, we werent over that December day.

Mom buried herself in her work for long hours.

Grandpa pulled into himself, wearing that glazed look hed adopted before the funeral.

I was almost sure hed wear that look for the rest of his life. He loved Aziza. And what wasnt there to love? Beautiful golden girl, my mom called her, forever poking her four-year-old nose around the corner daring any of us to chase her. Teasing, begging for attention, which we gave because we couldnt resist her…

Grandpa loved my sister a lot. I was afraid he loved me very little now.

I wasnt so fond of myself, either. I shut out all of my Buena Vista friends and started running alone.

From the window over the kitchen sink I watched Nefertiti as she sat on the step, preening in a sunny spot around the back of the house. I went out to sit with her, stroking her fur and surveying the weedy backyard that Mom hadnt had time to think about. She kept saying she planned to hire a gardener, but there was always something that derailed that plan. In September, it was the new show at the museum that she had to set up by October. She was in charge of staging the Egyptian pieces coming on loan, but she was shorthanded and putting in extra time to make up for only having two assistants. It was going to be a while before the toilet and other debris disappeared.

It was all too depressing to look at, so I walked around to the front and for a minute glanced at the windows of the house across the street. I almost expected to see someone staring out at me. I couldnt shake the creeped out feeling I got every time I looked at that place.

I knelt to check my laces, and then I was racing down the street, hoping to shed old fears, old thoughts . . . at least for a while. I was at the end of the block, deciding which way to turn, when I spotted Grandpa. I went in the opposite direction, so neither one of us had to pretend that everything was all right since that letter from Dad.

The high school was only four blocks away––one of the reasons, Mom said, she chose this location. It also had one of the best academic ratings in the valley. Another reason she told me she zeroed in on our cozy cul-de-sac.

When I reached the school, I stared up at the two-storied building where Id spend my last two years of high school. Then what? Junior college, or a job at K-Mart? I worried that Id bomb on my SATs.  Id bombed on almost everything, hadnt I? My grades, my friends––being a sister.

I walked up the stone path, leading to the main doors, imagining that first day here, my stomach balling up with worry just on the edge of dread. That first day was going to be the worst.

Off to my right, a thick oak sheltered tables with benches, so I jogged across the lawn and sat on the wooden slats and thought about how it was going to be when school started. Everything new. Everything different. The stares all newbies get. Nobody would know who I was or why I was here. They wouldnt know my mom was famous for her books on Egypt, or that my dad was an archeologistthe one people called when they dug up important ancient anything in the Middle East. But theyd know something was different about me the minute they heard my name. Cleopatra wasnt on any baby name list theyd ever read. Neither was Aziza, but she was too little for her name to embarrass her. Shed only just learned what it meant. Precious. And she was that. She was. 

A breeze brushed my cheek and I shivered. I thought Id gotten over feeling that chill, but the healing process wasnt just slow, it was uneven, too. Sometimes Aziza was only a whisper inside me, and then her image would spring from around the corner just like she used to, full of mischief and giggles. Then there would be that moment when the memory of the chilled air of our old entryway blasted across my face.

Stop it.

I jumped to my feet and jogged to the track behind the high school as fast as I could. I didnt have a devil at my back, but I had a tiny ghost that shadowed me when I stayed still for very long.

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Product Reviews

Showing reviews 1-10 of 12 | Next

  1. Shelfari 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 17th May 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.


  2. Library Thing 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 17th May 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 handsome 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.


  3. An inspiring novel dealing with guilt and pain 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 22nd Apr 2015

    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. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


  4. Sudden Secrets 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 14th Apr 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.


  5. A Page Turner 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 14th Apr 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!


  6. from FictionZeal.com re: Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 14th Apr 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.


  7. Sudden Secrets is an intriguing story with complex characters that worm their way into your heart. 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 3rd Apr 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.

    Plot
    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.

    Characters
    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.

    Disclaimer
    I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.


  8. Kept me hooked 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 23rd Feb 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.


  9. Night Owl Teen 4 Star Review

    Posted by on 12th Feb 2015

    Sudden Secrets is an interesting YA book written by C. Lee McKenzie. It’s entertaining enough for anyone to enjoy, regardless of age. The storyline is easy to follow, and gives you enough history on the characters to allow you to relate and enjoy them. The character Cleo is a forlorn teenager with a heavy heart and great burden to carry. I really felt her heartache just leap off the pages. The tone of the story emphasizes the burden of the secret that Cleo is carrying, and how it affects her relationships with those around her. The supporting characters are as equally well developed, and readers can easily get attached. I love the descriptions of the small town, the oldness of the house, and the great detail of the deterioration of the yard. These details set the tone for the story. The strain of the secret that Cleo’s family carries can be felt in the pages as you read. Paired with the mystery of the house across the street, it's a well-written blend of mystery, angst, sorrow, and love. I look forward to reading more from C. Lee McKenzie.


  10. A Page Turner 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 9th Feb 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!


Showing reviews 1-10 of 12 | Next

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