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Notes from Ghost Town Hardcover – Feb 12 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA (Feb. 12 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606842641
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606842645
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3 x 21.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #655,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Kate Ellison trained as an actor in Chicago and has walked across the entire country of Spain. She is a painter and jewelry-maker. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Butterfly Clues was her first novel. You can visit her online at www.kateellison.com.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 33 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A nice mix of sweet and thrilling Feb. 15 2013
By Black Heart Reviews (formerly GingerRead) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I don't know whether to classify Notes From Ghost Town as a paranormal romance or a psychological thriller. Maybe it is a little of both. I could never figure out if Stern's ghost was really there or if he was just a figment of Olivia's fragile mind. The mind is an amazing muscle with the power to produce the unbelievable. If you don't believe in ghosts you would probably see Notes From Ghost Town as a murder mystery told from the point of view of a girl on the verge of losing her mind. Either from grief and despair or from the hereditary traits passed on by schizophrenic mother.

However, if you are open to the paranormal then maybe Olivia isn't losing her sanity at all. Maybe Lucas really is trapped in the in between with unfinished business. Perhaps souls really can not pass on until they are truly settled with the way their lives have gone.

What you take from Notes From Ghost Town is up to you. Ellison doesn't give you a clear definition as to what Olivia is experiencing. I small touch of brilliance on Ellison's part I think. I love that she left this aspect of the story open for readers to come to their own conclusion. It's not as if there is a huge question left unanswered, just something slightly ajar as to open thought and contemplation.

Olivia herself was not a huge favorite of mine. I had a hard time liking her, I think because I had a hard time understanding who she is. She was unpredictable but not enough to make me think that it was on purpose. I would have understood her as a rash girl if it was being played up as part of her losing her mind. Unfortunately, that isn't the impression I got. Instead I felt like Ellison herself was unsure of who Olivia really is.

The mystery behind Lucas' death was only partly predictable. I fingered the culprit pretty early on but the details behind it all where more elusive and trying to come up with all the possible explanations was absorbing.

There is more to Notes From Ghost Town than just a murder mystery. It is the telling of a girl grieving over the loss of a best friend, loss of a love, loss of a mother, home, family, life, color and art. Also, of how you heal from such loss.

Notes From Ghost Town is a read that I can see many YA lovers really enjoying. It's a nice mix of sweet and thrilling and I hope it finds its target audience, even though it fell a little thin for me with the conviction of Olivia.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
AMAZING Mystery full of heartache and love! Feb. 13 2013
By The Bumble Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's been a while since a book gently ripped my heart out and then handed it back to me saying, "life is short, live your life the best you can... as much as you can." The heartache throughout the story was so bittersweet...

Olivia was packing for art school when her life got turned upside down - her best friend kisses her and in that same moment, she goes colorblind... and then a few months later, Lucas is dead. And everyone says that her mother killed him.
Olivia struggles to grieve her losses - having to leave art school and return to a new home with her dad, his girlfriend and the girlfriend's adorable daughter is not what she had in mind. But going back to the 'purple house' was even harder. Between all the memories and the community's outcry, they had no choice but to move into a plain condo on the other side of town.
During one of Olivia's moments of anger, grief and a little drunk, she find herself in a predicament... and that's when Lucas, her Stern, comes to her. Of course her initial reaction is that she is her mother's daughter, that she has all the symptoms of schizophrenia, and that if she tells anyone, they will want to lock her up too.

My heart ached so much for Stern, and his 'Liver'. The connection between these two characters was intense and moving. Their love of life, music and art was not only their life, but it bonded them. It's what tore them apart. It's what helped and healed them too.

The plot is so realistic, this is a story that could, unfortunately, be plucked right out of the newspapers. Every little detail mentioned added so much more to the story, the mystery. I was able to feel the Miami heat, hear the mosquito's buzzing around and smell the ocean breeze. I've never been to Florida before, but I feel like I can say that I have. Kate's description of Ghost Town, the purple house and even the carousel that Olivia worked at was so picturesque and eerie.

This is another author who really knows how to bring in memorable secondary characters -
Raina, Olivia's best friend - I want her to be my BFF! And, I want her gorgeous hair too! She does the best that she can to understand and help Olivia. I probably would have done the same things. It is sometimes hard for others to truly understand what a grieving person is going through.
And then there's Austin. I have to admit, as good as he was as a character and supportive of Olivia, I don't like him much. I didn't really feel a connection between him and Olivia. And I think that has to do with Lucas. My heart is still so wrapped around what Lucas was and could have been, I cannot forgive the things that have happened and give Austin a fair shot. But I'm happy that others did and do. This is a story that I will definitely be re-reading to see if my feelings will ever be fair to him.

Also, Kate Ellison weaves in the paranormal, the ghost, so well - it will make you question whether it is real or not. Is it possible for the dead to come back? Or, can our minds really conjure these type of hallucinations to help us grieve, love and find the truth?

Even though Kate Ellison made me a blubbering mess during this book, I loved it every second of it! And I have definitely found another author to 'fan-girl' over!
I have not read The Butterfly Clues yet! Obviously this will be remedied very soon! I will be following this author wherever she goes - I cannot wait to hear what her next book will be about!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Notes from Ghost Town Dec 7 2014
By Serenity - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Sigh...I got this book a bit ago and finally got to it. I was excited and heard a few good things about it, but once I started the book, the excitement faded.

First off Olivia and Stern are friends and end up flirting. Lucas then runs off and Olivia continued packing to go off to school. Next thing you know, Lucas is dead and her mum kill him. Then it jumps into Olivia at an appointment, her dad with a new girl and family, and she is living with him. She is then getting ready for the party and then heads off to a beach with a guy. While hiding from the cops, the waves drag her under and the person who saves her is Lucas.

Okay so he came back from the dead. At this point I would have loved some more info on how he was killed and why they think Olivia's mum is the murderer.

Eventually my interest returned and I got hopeful the book was going to turn out good. Stern keeps popping up and Olivia finally listens to him and we learn about whats going on with Stern, his murder and finding out the true killer. If it wasn't for Stern saying that Olivia's mum wasn't the killer, she might not have even tried. She didn't think Stern was real, that she was just going crazy. Which would just have been great on top of her color blindness. But, it had to be that love she had for him, that love that gave her the little push she needed to stand up and talk to Stern like he was there. Otherwise, the book would have taken a different turn. And if it did end up going that way, I probably wouldn't have finished the book.

So overall I did manage to finish the book, and after six chapters I was thinking if I should even go on anymore. I'm glad I went on a bit more and ended up enjoying the story a little more than I thought. However, I did still have issues I couldn't get over.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An eerie tale of love and murder! March 24 2013
By Literary Meanderings - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Think about a moment, a little centimeter of time you'd happily exist in forever, if time could be laid out along the spine of a ruler. Maybe it haunts you in that blue inch of half consciousness just before you're fully awake.

Here is mine: Miami, me and Stern. One week before I was supposed to go back to art school.

If I could stay there, in that moment before everything changed, I would stay there forever."

For sixteen-year-old Olivia, "that moment" is the last time she was able to see the world in color.

That day, her best friend in the world, Stern, kissed her for the first and last time. After their kiss, Olivia's world turned gray... literally. She stopped seeing color. Her biggest fear was that she was going insane just like her mother; her mother who used to talk about The Gray Space, the dead place.

Upon seeing her dismay, Stern takes it as a sign that he made the wrong move, and he leaves.

Olivia never sees him again because, less than a week later, Stern is murdered--and Olivia's mother is the put in jail for killing him.

Jump ahead ten months: Olivia is now an art school drop out with a mother who is about to go on trial for killing her best friend. She still can't see color, and no one else knows about it but her doctor.

Olivia couldn't care less about going out with friends, attending parties, or anything else. Unfortunately, her father forces her to attend a party for his job. Olivia ends up drunk on the beach. She goes into the water and loses herself; she begins to drown. Just when she decides to give up even trying to live, a set of strong arms are around her, pulling her to safety.

When her head is clear enough to take a look at her savior, she sees the impossible.


- - -

Oh boy! I really loved this novel! I have to say I was surprised. I didn't enjoy Kate Ellison's first book, The Butterfly Clues, very much at all. I am sooo glad I gave this book a chance, because it was fantastic.

The only things I didn't like were: A) The nickname Stern gave Olivia. Liver. That is not cute. Ugh.

B) The word "crazy" was thrown around too much for my tastes. I don't like that word in the context it was used, and it was hard for me to get past my irritation of this small detail.

Aside from that, this book was a winner!

The first thing that grips you is Ellison's writing. She has a very poetic way with words and really knows how to weave a plot. This is a definite must when writing mystery! And what a mystery this was. Wow.

I was quite surprised by the depth of the plot. I was expecting something a bit more fluffy than what it turned out to be. It's a good thing, though! First of all, Olivia meets a new boy and has a bit of a romance with him. She finds out that this new boy is hiding something big from her. Another thing is the looming trial for her mother. Nine days away. Then there is the fact that Olivia can't see color, along with the biggest issue of all--Stern. Is she seeing his ghost, or is her brain not working properly? Olivia battles herself in the beginning. She denies that Stern is really there. She blames it on her own mind. She misses him and it's making her see things. Eventually, she can't deny it any longer. She decides that it is indeed the ghost of her best friend. After talking to him about the night of his murder, Olivia is confused. Stern tells her things that make her doubt her mother's guilt. She makes a decision to try and clear her mother's name. With the trial being so close, Olivia has to work fast. We follow her around and watch as she fits one puzzle piece together after another. Olivia becomes sure of her mother's innocence, but that leaves the question of who? Who would kill Stern, and why?

Olivia's journey to save her mother is told in beautiful, descriptive prose. It's an emotionally gripping novel. Olivia's life is heartbreaking. Her best friend is dead before she can tell him how she truly feels. Her mother is mentally unstable and accused of the murder. Her friends don't understand her. Her father is busy with work. Her life is on a downward spiral and she can't seem to stop it. She was a character I found easy to relate to. Her pain was palpable, as was her need for closure. I felt for her and I was truly connected with her and the outcome of her story. Stern, although not present it much of the book, was an impressive entity. Through Olivia's memories and inner dialogue, we really get to know who Stern is. We get to see how much these two friends cared for each other and how that friendship and companionship grew into true love. I think the romance was something done very well. Ellison took a unique route with this book. It wasn't a happily-ever-after, but it was a happy ending, if you look at it the right way. If you choose to read this, don't expect Stern to magically come back to life. He doesn't. He and Olivia don't get to skip off into the sunset, hand in hand. The story is ultimately about gaining closure, coming to grips with life's hardships, finding the truth, bringing forth justice, and examining human nature in both it's good and bad forms.

The mystery aspect was also very well done. Who doesn't love a good mystery?! Ellison gives us plenty of clues, but never actually gives anything away until just the right moment. The story moves at a fantastic pace, with each revelation placed in the perfect spot. I loved how many twists were put into the plot, as well as all of the clues hidden in plain sight.

I also want to mention the fact that Olivia's relationship with her mother is a strange, but beautiful one. Stern was also close with Olivia's mother. She was his piano teacher, and they had quite a bond. The whole triangle was very moving and I actually cried a couple times when reading pieces about Olivia's mother. The relationship between these three is a really big part of this story.

All in all, I definitely recommend this book! It's a well thought out mystery with a heartbreaking romance on the side. It's a story of friendship and family, of love and loss, and of murder and justice. It's packed with twists and revelations. The multidimensional characters are impressive and relatable. It's got an eerie feel to it, but it isn't scary. It's fast-paced and well-told. Ellison paid great attention to detail. There's an undertone of sadness to the overall story, but Ellison balances it well with the thrill of a well laid-out murder mystery, and a bittersweet ending that stands outside the box of what you generally see in YA fiction. This book is a real show-stopper! You definitely want to add this one to your shelf!

~ 4 OF 5 STARS ~
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a great murder/mystery book that has good romance, heartbreak, and isn't too scary. Feb. 12 2013
By Dark Faerie Tales - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: This is a great murder/mystery book that has good romance, heartbreak, and isn't too scary.

Opening Sentence: Think about a moment, a little centimeter of time you'd happily exist in forever, if time could be laid out along the spine of a ruler.

The Review:

Olivia is 16 years old and has just recently flunked out of art school. A year ago her best friend was brutally murdered. Her mother is the one accused of murdering him, she is a schizophrenic that went off her medication and they say she didn't know what she was doing. Lucas Stern and Olivia grew up together and were pretty much inseparable. Olivia was big into art and Stern was an amazing piano player. One week before Stern was murdered Olivia realized that she had more than friendship feelings for Stern but she never got a chance to tell him how she felt. The last time she saw Stern they shared a sweet moment together but it left her colorblind and now she can only see the world in shades of Grey. That's why she dropped out of art school. How can she be an artist if she can't see colors. Her life has pretty much turned upside-down and she doesn't know how to move on from all the bad that has happened.

It has almost been a year and her mother's trial is only ten days away. She gets a surprise visit from Stern's ghost and he tells her that her mother didn't kill him. Olivia needs to find Stern's real killer and the only clues she has are the inconsistent memories that Stern has from being alive. Together they try to piece together what really happened to him on that horrible night, before it's too late for her mother. Along the way Olivia has to confront her feelings about the boy she lost forever and can never really get back.

Olivia is a pretty average teenager. She likes to flirt and drink a little too much, but she feels like she might be going crazy at times. She was a fun character that has a lot of depth to her. You get to see her try to deal with everything that has happened and the author does a wonderful job of making you feel and see the pain that Olivia is going through. She tries to cope the best way she can but the only way to find peace and move on is to find the truth. I really liked her as a character and felt that she was easy to connect to.

Stern is an interesting character. You get to see two sides to Stern. His ghost and then memory's that Olivia has of him. The ghost Stern doesn't really remember much from his life, but he remembers Olivia and a few clues they need to solve his murder. In Olivia's memories he is a sweet boy that she did everything with. He was her best friend and it's cute to see how their relationship developed through their lives. He is a good guy and I liked getting to know him.

This book was a great read. It really caught my interest and kept it the whole way through. I did figure out parts of the plot pretty early on, but there were also some twists that caught me by surprise. It had a great pace and was very well written. There was sweet romance, and some very heartfelt moments throughout the book. The ending was perfect because it left you satisfied and I would love to read more by this author. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good mystery.

FTC Advisory: Egmont USA provided me with a copy of Notes from Ghost Town. No goody bags, sponsorships, "material connections," or bribes were exchanged for my review.