2 October 2011

Black Purse by Stephanie M Sellers

Character Development          2
Editing                                     5
Sex                                          0
Violence                                  1
Romance                                 0
Readability/Flow                    4

From Goodreads: "As one woman's story of overcoming unfolds, so do the pages of the Underground Railroad. North Carolina's Lumbee Indian heritage is explored and finally examined when a written document is handed to the rightful heir. But not before Exilee Sheffield learns through real life experiences that fate sometimes rides a hot horse."

This is seriously a hard book for me to review. I think I'll start with the technical marks. Ms Sellers writes very well. The book is written in first person, present tense which can be a hard go for both reader and author. Actually, whenever I start an indie book and discover it is written from this point of view, I start to worry. Kudos to Stephanie Sellers, though, she pulls it off beautifully! A huge pet peeve for me is when writers inadvertently change POV as they write so it is something I watch carefully for. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find one slip up in 'Black Purse'.

It's possible the 4/5 I gave for readability/flow is a little chincy. It should likely be higher. The pages fly by. The interaction between the character is fast, smart and often funny. Strangely enough, here is where I first ran into trouble. There seems to be some kind of cultural gap between the characters in the novel (and so, likely the author) and me. There are some terms I was totally unfamiliar with. Not that I didn't understand the words, I just couldn' figure out the meaning of the words in the context of the conversation. I'm assuming they were colloquialisms of some sort that I was unfamiliar with. It also took me aback when the breasts of all of the female characters, became characters in the story in their own right. This doesn't just happen once, it continues. So whenever 'the girls' are mentioned, it is breasts that are referred to. For a book that is not one of the steamy hot romances out there, it was strange to me that ALL of the female characters were so breast obsessed.

Which brings us to the characters. I liked the beginning of the book which throws the reader right into the action. No explanation or character development to begin with, but it grabs you and drags you right in. Unfortunately for the character development, Stephanie Sellers doesn't take time out of the action to do much in the line of character development as the story progresses either. The growth of the characters is obvious as the story progresses but I didn't get to know any of them well enough to connect with them. I wanted to be Exilee's friend but I always felt like the nerdy, awkward girl trying to get the cool kids to notice me.

Basically, I would say that this is a very good book - one I could envision winning many awards - but not a book I particularily enjoyed. I felt like I was at a great party with some fascinating people, but everyone knew each other and I was left out of all the inside jokes. I was also excited to get into the part of the story that dealt with the underground railway, but that part of the story didn't show up until 200+ pages into the 331 pages of the book. When I finished the last page, I was left feeling ... OK. Not supremely excited or overly satisfied, just OK.


  1. Dana, Thank you for the gracious review. Yes, there is a thought provoking cultural difference between characters.
    And you will be excited to learn that 'Black Purse' is now in all of North Carolina's state capital libraries in Wake County. 'Black Purse' depicts the real life present day and past cultural conflicts and the incredible bond between horses and humans.
    I wrote 'Black Purse' for deep readers who like sassy Southern stories.
    Buy it at: https://www.createspace.com/3675541

  2. You give great reviews Dana! I always know where to look if I need a good book to read :)

  3. Left feeling just ok?...yes that is not the best feeling to have at the end of a book

  4. Kudos to the author for creating a good book. So sad you felt left out. I hate when that happens.

  5. 'Black Purse' is written in third person, present tense.


Here's your chance to voice your opinion. We all have them. I'd love to hear yours. I try to respond to all comments so please check back if you are interested in that.