Notes from Ghost Town Hardcover – Feb 12 2013
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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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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!
I did enjoy this story although the pacing seemed really slow. It took forever to get the story moving forward and even then it was more of a shuffle. Around 80% of the way through, the tension picks up and there are a few engaging, awesome, couldn't-put-it-down chapters. After that it seems to take the book forever to end. It reminded me a bit of the third installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy where it could've ended in about five different places but just kept on going. The ending we do eventually get wasn't nearly as powerful as some of the endings of previous chapters so I found that somewhat disappointing.
I tend to be overly critical of books dealing with music, particularly piano, particularly classical music. Considering one of the characters was auditioning for Julliard and was considered a piano prodigy, I really battled to understand the choice of Elvira Madigan. One, that's a concerto, not a sonata, and he would thus have been accompanied by someone playing the orchestral part on a second piano, but there is no mention of that at all in the book. Two, that is neither a particularly showy nor technically advanced piece. If you're auditioning for Julliard and consider yourself a 'piano god' (direct quote from the character) then surely you could've whipped out something a little more show-stopping by Liszt or Rach or Scriabin or even Chopin. There were also a few other inaccurate references such as a pianist playing a symphony - grr, pet peeve. If you're going to write about art music, get it right!
Despite my issues with the book, I did mostly enjoy it and loved Olivia's friends although I wasn't the biggest fan of Olivia herself. Overall, a decent read.
I still don't get why Olivia goes colorblind, and when I say colorblind I mean she only sees in shades of gray, not like actual colorblindness where you mistake colors for others. If the only reason was because of the shock, then it was kind of a let down. I was expecting something more to come of it.
Olivia was a real brat, she was acting like the divorce and remarriage/Stern's death had just happened when this had all occurred over 10 months ago. I don't blame her with Stern's death, cause you never really just get over something like that, but the divorce was happening even before that, so she really needed to get it together in that regard. She was an ass to her friend too. The way she kept thinking about her made me not like her, but the thing is the friend never really did anything wrong, she was just trying to help distract her from the pain the only way she knew.
The murder mystery was a joke. I don't know why she took so long to figure it out, and she only did once she was confronted with the murderer...I knew who it was as soon as we meet that person. I kept reading thinking it can't be just that, there just had to be more. There were more reasons behind the murder but nothing special, it was all just normal (for a murder).
Up to here I would have even given it 3 stars cause Olivia really does try to figure it out and is putting the pieces together somewhat and it was mildly entertaining. What I couldn't forgive was how EVERYONE kept telling the girl she was making it up.
*Slight spoilers ahead!*
Your daughter is telling you someone tried to kill her and you tell her she is just rationalizing it?! REALLY? Wouldn't you AT LEAST hear her all out and look into it a bit, just to make sure someone isn't actually trying to kill her? I just got so pissed. It wasn't just her dad either. It was everyoneee, her dad, best friend, possible romantic interest. It was all just a bit much.
In the end this book was just nothing new. I kept reading in the hopes it would pop out with a mind-blowing secret at the end, but no. You get what you see and nothing more.
From Nyx @ [...]