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Notes from Ghost Town

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  907 ratings  ·  215 reviews
They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death.

There’s a catch: O
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by EgmontUSA
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Scarlet by Marissa MeyerUnravel Me by Tahereh MafiDualed by Elsie ChapmanHysteria by Megan MirandaNotes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison
February 2013 YA Fiction
5th out of 26 books — 20 voters
Perfect Timing by Catherine AndersonThe Rebel's Promise by Jane GodmanThe Indigo Spell by Richelle MeadScarlet by Marissa MeyerAnything for You by Jessica Scott
Best books of February, 2013
66th out of 116 books — 528 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Zemira Warner
You can find this review and much more over at YA Fanatic.

The story starts of with Olivia and Lucas-best friends, being cute and flirty, which escalated into a make-out session. Olivia ends up color blind, which is a huge deal because she is an artist. Lucas mistakes her reaction as a rejection and he fled the scene. They don’t talk for a week and soon Olivia finds out her mum killed him. After spending months avoiding everyone she sees Lucas’ ghost and he has some new, her mum wasn’t responsibl
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

NOTES FROM A GHOST TOWN by Kate Ellison is the second book I’ve reviewed this year about a girl who was haunted by the ghost of her best friend and urged to solve a murder. Both took place in a sweltering hot small town, had a precocious little sister, a well meaning step parent, and a disreputable bad boy who may or may not be redeemable. But those similarities aren’t the most striking ones. What’s shocking to me is that I’m giving both books a 5/5 rat
Joy (joyous reads)
I struggled with this book; it turns out, I don't have the capacity to be patient when the book I'm reading contains a much more evolved mystery. And boy, did this book ever tried my patience.

Quick Story:

Notes from Ghost Town is a story about a girl whose realization that she was in love with her best friend came a little too late. Because a week after they kissed, he was murdered. As if that's not enough to push her into a tailspin of emotional and mental chaos, the accused murderer (and admit
Adela C.
Read the full review on my blog, in both English and Romanian.

I have been reading a lot lately, and this made me become stricter and more selective with my books. But every once in a while, I come across a book that enages and inspires me so much that it becomes one of my favourites of all time. This was the case with “Notes From Ghost Town” by Kate Ellison. For some reason, I find it harder to express my feelings about books that I absolutely loved. There
Lucas was a piano student of Olivia’s mother. When he was found dead with Olivia’s mother crouching besides him, the authority locked the woman away after she confessed she had killed him. Feeling miserable, Olivia had a hard time coping with what had happened. With her mom’s trial a few days away, Olivia started seeing Lucas and hearing his voice. Could this be her mind playing tricks on her or was she really seeing the ghost? And when Olivia started following the suggestions from the ghost to ...more
1.5 stars.
You’d think that a book featuring an artist would be vivid and colourful.
You’d think that a book featuring ghosts would be creepy.

Well, it was neither.

Olivia Tithe’s mother was accused of killing Stern, her boyfriend. Her murder trial is nine days away and Stern’s ghost keeps popping up, urging her to find out the truth. Problem is, Olivia is colour-blind and maybe be going insane like her mother.
Tough luck. Do I care? Not particularly.

I don’t mean to sound like an emotionless battle r
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
**3.75 stars**

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. For some reason, I went into it with pretty low expectations. Maybe it was the title? Something threw me off about it and I wasn't looking forward to reading it. However, it was much better than I expected. One of my favorite things about this book was the author's writing style. I hate YA books written in a pseudo-"youthful" voice. They come across as very fake and they always take me out of the story. This book was right on the mon
Olivia has only just expressed her feelings for her childhood friend Stern when Stern turns up dead and Olivia's schizophrenic mother confesses to the crime. Now, months later, Olivia is trying to pick up the pieces of her life as her father prepares to remarry. When Olivia gets involved with the son of a real estate mogul (and her father's boss) Austin, she begins seeing things... things like the ghost of Stern. Now Olivia must race against time to prevent her mother being locked away for a cri ...more
Love triangles, flaky friends, distracted parents, mental illness and murder. Notes From Ghost Town has it all, so what's not to love? Although this book is a murder-mystery, it addresses the stigmas, social attitudes, paranoia and misunderstanding surrounding mental illness. From Medusa (character in the book) to Olivia's mother, to her own struggles with hereditary possibilities, the impact, effects and treatment of the mentally ill are portrayed, not in some grandiose call to action, but rath ...more
Dark Faerie Tales
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 schizophr
This excerpt is taken from my Three-Things review on Into the Hall of Books. Read more here:

As I began to read Notes From Ghost Town by Kate Ellison, the first thing that really struck me was the language and writing of this author. This book flowed so well, with such lovely words. It felt romantic and it felt emotional. Ellison's use of language worked well to set the mood of whatever scene was taking place, and I appreciated that so much as a lover of a
4.5/5 stars.

Emotionally charged book. Very good.

This book takes the reader on an emotional journey. It is a YA book with a bit of mystery. And a strong subject matter. But it pulls you in.

The narrator is Olivia Tithe. She is a 16 year old artist whose best friend Lucas Stern (a piano prodigy) is murdered. And her mother is the prime suspect. Her mother suffers from schizophrenia and Olivia sees the ghost of her friend. She wonders if she is going crazy too.

The book has mystery (Olivia tries to
The phrase that just popped into my head randomly while reading this book is "beautiful sadness." The prose in this book is so beautiful that it basically feels like a lengthy poem full of striking images and metaphorical phrases. The emotion in places was just overwhelming while not even once being overstated.

I love that the reader is left guessing about the true nature of what is going on. Is Olivia succumbing to schizophrenia like her mom, her world turning gray and Stern reappearing and guid
Jenna was a nice mystery murder story. I think this will interest young readers in the sense that it's not gory in details (the murder) and the mystery is not that complicated. It didn't rise up a lot of effort for me to guess who the murderer is, but I pretty much guessed who even before I was halfway through the story. I loved how it was written though, and how unsure the genre is because it's on the brink between mystery murder and paranormal. While reading, you will always wonder if it's ...more
This was a beautiful, heartbreaking story about Olivia and Stern, two gifted teens. Olivia or Liver as Stern called her was a painter and Stern, Lucas Sternum, was a pianist, a prodigy. Olivia's mother was Stern's teacher, that is right up until the night she confessed to murdering him. And the last time Olivia saw Stern he kissed her, called it a mistake and she lost her colors. She could only see black and white and shades of gray. How does a painter paint without color? She doesn't and gets k ...more
As much as I loved The Butterfly Clues, I can't say the same for this second novel from Kate Ellison. Olivia isn't nearly as strong a character as Lo, and the romance here wasn't "sweet" to me like a lot of other reviewers on Amazon. Part of the problem, too, is that Lucas is dead when the story starts, so we don't really get to know him as Olivia does - we just know him as the ghost that she knows.

Also disappointing was that I had the mystery figured out quickly, the whodunit part, anyway. The
Mary Katherine
I had read Kate Ellison's other book, the Butterfly Clues, a while ago. I went to the bookstore a while ago and had the guy working there look up to see if she had any other books. He told me about this book, Notes from Ghost Town. I didn't even read the inside or the back. I just went ahead and bought it. The Butterfly Clues is one of my new top favorite books. I was impressed with her style of writing and the story line was unlike any other. Because her other book had stolen my heart, I figure ...more
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Egmont USA and Netgalley.)
16-year-old Olivia used to have a bright future, but 10 months ago everything changed. Her best friend (and the boy she was in love with) was murdered, her mother was sent to prison for killing him, and Olivia lost her ability to see colours, and consequently her place at art school. Now Olivia’s life is shades of gray, and she must get her little sister to help her choose matc
Nov 16, 2013 XxForeverXx_XxVampire_DiariezxxLuvsSHERLOCKandSUPERNATURAL rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like mystery stories with a character who has a ghost that they used to love.
Recommended to XxForeverXx_XxVampire_DiariezxxLuvsSHERLOCKandSUPERNATURAL by: Goodreads, public library.
I saw this book on Goodreads and thought it looked interesting. Ghosts, a mystery, love who wouldn't like it. It was really interesting and all through the book I was like WHO DID IT!!!!!! I so badly wanted to know!!! The plot was suspenseful and interesting. I liked it! It did stretch on for bit to long, but it was worth it to get to the end. I liked the characters to. I understood what Olivia was feeling. Her mom was just about to be tied for murder in court and everyone was telling her to let ...more
“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.”

The synopsis of this sounded very promising so i decided to dive into it, i don't regret it one bit.
The book started with Olivia reminiscing 10 months into the past, before everything hit the fan. Her best friend was coming to visit her before she went back to art schoo
Lu (Sugar & Snark)
Olivia’s story is heartbreaking, her mother murders her best friend and possibly the first boy she ever loved. Through the pain she tries to understand what happened and tries to forgive her mother. But things are not that easy, as she has gone colorblind, which doesn’t bode well for a painter. And to top it all off, she starts to see the ghost of her murdered friend. Together they try and piece together what happened to him.

Olivia was a very easy character to like. Her story is so heartbreaking
Review originally posted at Gypsy Reviews.

Reading the summary, I was expecting a mystery, a thriller that would send shivers down my spine upon reading this and even from the title I expected something that would get me scared but unfortunately, this was nothing like I had hoped it would be.

The book begins with Olivia Tithe and her best friend, Lucas Stern, who is helping her pack up her things before she goes to Art School. Olivia’s parents are recently divorced and her father is moving out. Ol
WOW! I have chills right now from this book! In fact I had chills through most of the story! As well as laughter and tears! This is one of the best murder mysteries I have ever read! I can't believe it was a YA!

So Olivia's best friend and secret love, Stern is murdered 1 week after their first kiss and she goes away to her art boarding school. The synopsis leaves out who is the main murder suspect: Olivia's mother, who is schizophrenic, and whom everyone believes has a major crazy episode. Her m
Si choisir un livre parce qu'il a une belle couverture est très souvent une bonne idée. Parfois ça l'est un peu moins. Comme c'est le cas ici. Parce que la couverture est vachement belle et poétique. Et le résumé est quand même prometteur...
Mais qu'est ce que je me suis ennuyée.

Globalement, au milieu de cet ennui, il y des choses que j'ai apprécié. Et d'autres moins. Reportage.

Ce que j'ai aimé

・Le premier chapitre. Alléchant et prometteur.
・Le mystère autour de la mort de Stern.
・Le mystère lié à
Notes from Ghost Town tells the story of Olivia Tithe who is facing some serious struggles. Her best friend, Lucas Stern, was killed in a gruesome murder, her mother has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and Olivia has just flunked out of art school. On top of all that she's dealing with her father's new love interest, Heather. When Lucas' ghost begins to reveal himself to Olivia she discovers that his murderer may not be the person who was charged. Using clues left by Lucas, she works to find o ...more
Notes from Ghost Town is one of those reads that lets us know from the first page that our hearts are going bear a few new scars once it’s done with us, our knowledge of Stern’s death thanks to the synopsis and prologue made an even heavier burden to bear given he’s alive briefly in the first chapter. Those few precious moments with him–a young man full of color, life, and love for his best friend–makes the abrupt transition from life to death all the more painful, the color we could have sworn ...more
This is the second book that I have had the pleasure to read by Kate Ellison and she hasn't disappointed me yet. There is something about her writing that makes me swoon. I am absolutely in love with it. Her characters are flawed and yet have such great depth to them that when you finish the last page you feel a hole in your chest. Finishing one of her books is like saying goodbye to a friend. While the books are not perfect ( I don't know what is stopping me from giving it 5 stars) I now consid ...more
Olivia's best friend/love interest Stern has been murdered--and the main suspect is Olivia's mother, who suffers from schizophrenia. As her mother's hearing approaches, Olivia, an artist who has flunked out of art school and has found herself seeing the world in shades of gray for months, now finds herself seeing Stern's ghost--and he insists that her mother isn't his killer, but he can't remember who is. Determined to help her mom, Olivia sets out to find out the truth.

The mystery element to th
Carol Connor
After a cursory examination of the cover art and the synopsis on the back of the book, I wasn't expecting what lay within. The catch phrase, "First loves never die" was really not at the heart of this novel. It's more complex than that and the novel reaches far more deeply into aspects of love than the phrase would suggest. Maybe it's meant to intrigue potential YA readers but once inside, this much older than YA reader found the story quite captivating. Synopsis: A young, gifted painter, Olivia ...more
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 th
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Making Connections: [Ends Dec 1st] Kate Ellison prize pack of 2 books! (US) 4 9 Nov 30, 2013 04:53PM  
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  • You Look Different in Real Life
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Kate Ellison spent a lot of time as a child, in Baltimore, pretending to be things she wasn't: a twin, a telekinetic, a benevolent witch with a box full of magical stones, a spy, a soccer player. She trained as an actor in Chicago and has walked across the entire country of Spain. She is a painter and jewelry-maker, and has at least one artist friend who really does keep his true name a secret fro ...more
More about Kate Ellison...

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“I wonder if that’s just how it feels to miss someone so bad – like being stabbed in the gut a little bit, each time you think of them.” 110 likes
“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.” 9 likes
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