Notes from Ghost Town

Notes from Ghost Town

3.82 (1,692 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$17.99

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


Olivia Tithe was excited for the summer and spending it with her best friend, Stern. But that was ruined when he was Olivia's mother. Flashing forward, Olivia's life has been transformed since that awful night.
After her mother's incarceration, Olivia must move on, but she hates her father's new fiancEe, Heather, and with her dad's new real estate development (she calls it Ghost Town) in the works, she barely sees him. But a new boy, Austin, has kindled feelings inside her that she hasn't felt since Stern's death.
Arriving at the same time as this new guy is a mysterious note that brings Stern's murder back to the forefront; Olivia knows that she must discover the truth behind her friend's death once and for all.
show more

Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 28mm | 454g
  • United States
  • English
  • 1606842641
  • 9781606842645
  • 1,422,677

About Kate Ellison

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
show more

Rating details

1,692 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 28% (479)
4 37% (619)
3 26% (443)
2 7% (113)
1 2% (38)

Our customer reviews

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 kicked out of art school and sent back home. The story was only the tiniest bit sluggish in the beginning and a little bit confusing as Olivia is at a party at Ghost Town, her father's building project, attending a reception. She hates the prep school boys there, her father's business partner's son most especially Asher Oakley, but I didn't really understand why. After that, I was so engrossed in the story, and you'll see why, that I couldn't put it down. Olivia is angry at the world, her mother for killing her best friend and the boy she loved and never got to tell. She hates her father's soon to be wife, Heather. She hates that her other best friend Raina has new friends on the swim team. She just hates it all. But she won't admit any of it to anyone. And she's really afraid that she's going crazy, like her mother because her mom has schizophrenia. She's a likable character even if you can't relate to what she's going through. And I admired her determination. The story is almost like a love story to Stern and to Olivia's mom. Olivia searches for the real truth of that night and even though everyone thinks she's just not dealing with the impending sentencing, she knows she's not crazy. What happens are a series of events that are too related to call coincidence, too scary to call pranks and too brazen to call an accident. Getting someone to believe her is the hardest thing Olivia has to do. Kate Elliston is a great story teller with just the right mix of suspense and longing to keep you going. Her mix of bittersweet with reality was perfect. The thriller aspect of it took my mind off the undertone of sadness and gave my mind something else to focus on. I really enjoyed this one and look forward to reading more from her. I think I'll pick up The Butterfly Clues and give it a try. Forgot to tell you, I was given a copy of Note From Ghost Town free of charge for review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my review financially in any more
by Heather Rosdol
(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 matching clothes. Nobody knows about Olivia's total colour blindness, she doesn't want to tell people because she doesn't want them to think that she's going crazy like her mother, as her mother has schizophrenia, and everyone tells her that it's hereditary. But now it's Olivia that's wondering if she's going crazy, because Stern (the boy that died) keeps appearing to her, and telling her that her mother didn't kill him, and that his killer is still out there. Now Olivia's on a crazy journey, trying to find who really killed Stern before her mother's hearing in 9 days. Can Olivia find out who really killed Stern? Is she going crazy? And can she save her mother? This book was really good. There was plenty of mystery, and I really liked Olivia and Stern. Olivia was a strong character, and continued to try and find out the truth, even when she wondered if she really was crazy. She tried to hold on to the belief that her mother was innocent, and did her best to hold things together. I felt really sorry for Olivia, not only had she lost her best friend, her mother, and her place at art school, she'd also lost her father to his new fiancé, lost her colour vision, and lost her friends who believed that her mother was a murderer. Things really weren't easy for Olivia, and seeing Stern was both a blessing and a curse. While she longed to have him back, and to tell him how she felt about him, she couldn't help but worry that Stern was really proof that she was developing schizophrenia the same as her mother. Olivia's colour blindness came on after kissing Stern, but she never got to tell him that she loved him because he died. Other than this one moment, there wasn't really all that much romance to this story. Stern was a ghost for most of the book, and they couldn't touch each other because of this, so the romance between Olivia and Stern was pretty limited. I liked the storyline in this book; I didn't guess who the real killer was, though like Olivia I didn't think that it was her mother. I made a few guesses as the story progressed, but I didn't guess who the killer was, although when the killer was revealed it made sense. I thought that the mystery aspect was done well, although I wasn't quite so sure about the whole colour-blindness thing. While Olivia was supposed to be unable to see colours, I kept forgetting that; I'm not sure why. When she kept speaking of 'The Gray Space', I wasn't sure if that was literal or figurative, especially as she said that her mother had talked about a similar thing. As far as I'm aware, her mother didn't have this same loss of colour vision, so this was a little confusing. I did like the other storyline plots though - the fact that Olivia can't paint because of her colour loss, and that Stern was a pianist applying to Julliard. Overall; I enjoyed this book, and I thought that the mystery element was done well. 7.5 out of more
by Sarah Elizabeth
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!show more
by Margie C
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 are so many thoughts I have about this book, I hope I am coherent in these following lines. The book deals with a series of very delicate issues: mental illnesses, death, divorce, losing all that is dear to you. The protagonist herself feels like she's losing it, especially because her mother's mental illness is hereditary. The fact that she suddenly sees everything in black, white and shades of grey (literally) doesn't help either. Or the fact that Stern appears in her life as a ghost, insisting that her mother wasn't the one who killed him. You can see how complicated the whole situation is, and how Olivia copes with all this is trully remarkable. She keeps telling herself that she might be crazy like her mother, but exactly the fact that she is having these thoughts shows that she is actually not. I love characters who are in a constant fight with their thoughts and emotions! The action is slow-paced at the beggining, with a focus on the main character's feelings and thoughts, and I must say I love this kind of books. It reminded me of the British classics written by female authors I love so much (like the Bronte sisters) with all those inspirational phrases. I don't usually highlight very much on my Kindle, but for this book I have 8 Kindle pages of highlights, and not just simple senteces, but whole paragraphs or pages from the book. I have been so immersed in the book from the very first page that I found myself thinking about it during the time I was not reading it. "Oh Susannah" was playing in my head and I actually sang it out loud while I was dressing or brushing my hair, like Olivia heard it in her mind right before Stern's ghost appeared. I find it so sad, losing your best friend before having the chance to tell him you actually loved him. That's probably the most clear lesson this book teaches you: don't leave any unspoken feelings and thoughts. "Notes from Ghost Town" managed to fully engage me in its story. The whole tension and mystery in the book envelopped me and I couldn't help but read page after page. Time stopped and I felt like I was living everything that Olivia did. Her smile was mine, her sorrow was mine, her tears were mine... literally. I can't remember when a book last made me feel like this. The author did great not only in creating this unique story, but also in portraying the characters and making even the idea of Stern's ghost seem realistic. I particullarly liked the idea of the Gray Space, the place that Olivia's schizophrenic mother describes as a place of anti-art, antifeeling. I recommend this book to readers in search of something new. It's not a typical thriller, not a typical romance and certainly not a typical paranormal book. It's a very unique combination of the three and if you are a fan of one of these genres, and also like books that focus on feelings, you are sure to love this book more
by Adela Cacovean
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X