Blog Book Tour | “Letters to Kezia” {Book 2: The Puritan Chronicles} by Peni Jo Renner #HistFic rooted in the author’s own ancestral heritage and legacies of the stories shared through a family’s descendent’s.

Posted Friday, 27 March, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Letters to Kezia” virtual book tour through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I received a complimentary paperback copy of “Letters to Kezia” direct from the author Peni Jo Renner, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

I had attempted to borrow the first novel in this series via ILL’ing it from my local library, however, as there was only one copy available through the inter-library loan catalogue it was unable to be borrowed. Therefore, in order to help myself become acquainted with the series, I followed the original blog tour which I have linked at the bottom of this post. I shared the links which I found pivotal to understanding how the Puritan Witch Chronicles began and hope it will help my readers and visitors proceed forward into “Letters to Kezia”.

Sadly my copy of “Letters to Kezia” was impended from reading on schedule (as my review posted late) not just due to personal reasons but because my copy was glued together! As in the pages themselves were glued and stuck onto each other, and as I carefully pulled them apart, pieces of ink and words caught together, erasing bits of the text yet enough staid to where I could read enough to gather the gist. The only time this has happened previously was when I read “Vintage”. I thankfully had a better reading experience with Renner than Gloss.

A curious moment: where the second novel sparks your interest in a series:

I remember a bit vaguely when Puritan Witch hit the book blogosphere last Spring (2014) whilst touring with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours; one of the book touring companies I had started to work with the previous Autumn (2013). It is hard to believe I am nearly about to welcome in my second full year of book blogging, as when I reflect back upon the stories, writers, and memories I’ve experienced through Historical Fiction solely based on the books alighting in my life through the outreach Ms Bruno conducts through her touring company, I am quite literally a bookish heart full of joy and wonder!

Most of the stories are by independently and self-published authors, of whom I might not have met as quickly or at all, if it hadn’t been for their blog tours; on this one level of gratitude, my heart is overflowing with positive recollections of their stories who have left an etching on my imagination. Even the books where I might not have soaked inside quite as readily or felt as moved as others, each story had it’s own merit of discovery and time inside my hands, as I attempted to read outside my comfort zones and dig deeper into the historical past, through generations of insight and numerous eras of timescape.

Blog Book Tour | “Letters to Kezia” {Book 2: The Puritan Chronicles} by Peni Jo Renner #HistFic rooted in the author’s own ancestral heritage and legacies of the stories shared through a family’s descendent’s.Letters to Kezia
by Peni Jo Renner
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

It is 1693 in Hereford, Connecticut, when Mary Case, the spinster daughter of a Puritan minister, finds herself hopelessly smitten by the roguish thief, Daniel Eames. Betrothed to a man she does not like or love, she is soon compelled to help Daniel escape from jail. Suddenly, she finds herself on the run, not only accused of being Daniel’s accomplice, but also of murder.

The fugitive pair soon finds solace-and a mutual attraction-among the escapee’s Algonquin friends until two men from Daniel’s dark past hunt them down. After Mary is captured and returned home to await trial, a tragedy takes the life of her younger sister, revealing a dark secret Mary’s father has kept for months. But just as Mary learns she is pregnant, she makes a horrifying discovery about Daniel that changes everything and prompts her to develop an unlikely bond with his mother, Rebecca, who soon saves Mary from a shocking fate. It is not until years later that her daughter, Kezia, finally learns the truth about her biological father and family.

Letters to Kezia shares a courageous woman’s journey through a Puritan life and beyond as she struggles with adversity and betrayal, and discovers that loyalty can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Series: The Puritan Chronicles,

Published by iUniverse

on 14th January, 2015

Format: Paperback

Pages: 208

Published By: iUniverse (@iUniverse)

Book One: Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames (Book Synopsis on Riffle)

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #LettersToKezia, #LetterstoKeziaBlogTour and #PeniJoRenner

About Peni Jo Renner

PENI JO RENNER is the author of the IPPY award-winning novel, Puritan Witch: the Redemption of Rebecca Eames. Originally from North Dakota, Peni now lives with her husband in Maryland where she is currently researching for the third book in the Puritan Chronicles series.

In lieu of reading Puritan Witch, I gained this insight from other book bloggers: (whose reviews are linked below)

Originally I felt Puritan Witch might not have been a very good fit for me, and as I read about how visually graphic certain scenes were by the recountments of fellow book bloggers, I am a bit thankful the ILL did not come in as I might have found myself in a bit of a pickle to transition through the harder hitting scenes. What I did appreciate is finding out how this novel was character driven and centered, rather than a deepening focus on the Salem Witch Trials themselves, as I think most of us knows quite a heap about the hysteria attached to that particular blackened part of history’s mirror where the darkness of humanity was truly reflecting through fear and anxiety out of the unknown.

On an emotionally stimulating level, I think the under current of the psychological anguish and angst would have been elements I would have enjoyed because it’s not always what your going through that counts the most, but rather the attitude you take-on as you go through the circumstances and situations which arise out of your life. You cannot bypass certain things from happening but you can change how you proceed to go through them.

Having learnt this was rooted and based within the author’s ancestral line of heritage was most intriguing of all, and I confirmed this whilst I read the Author’s Foreword for Letters to Kezia. In regards to the sequel, the premise warmed to me a bit more than Puritan Witch. I was a bit surprised to learn publishers do not regularly entertain Colonial stories, as honestly I have found a large number of works in both fiction and non-fiction areas, although the years in which they are published, I am uncertain of, but when I ran a search through my local library I came up with a well of choices I could not sit down to read without having a block of time to do so. Perhaps this is one of those ‘hidden niche’ areas of publishing where authors who are committed to the era are still finding it difficult to broach their ideas to a publisher who understands their motivations.

To have the duality of focus on those who were accused and those who were related to the accused was a fascinating cross-thread to read about because oft-times I think writers forget that in order to understand the scope of what is happening in the historical past, all sides need to be accounted for and explored. Sounded to me as though Renner not only understands this but has a clarity limited to a few.

Again, as the book bloggers kept articulating about the realistic imagery, I can foretell I will not be picking up Puritan Witch, yet through their observations, I felt as though I had gathered a proper sense of the writer’s style, method, and original voice. This is one reason why if I am reading a series, I attempt to read the first novel in sequence, if not the last novel in sequence towards the sequel I’m reading. It provides a layer of clear and convicting evidence to understand where the writer gave foundation to the series but also, how the foundation of the series is carried forward in future installments. As I recently revealed on my review of The Quantum Deception, I can sometimes even find myself drawn into a second book of a series and/or a stand-alone past the first query of interest. Clearly there was ‘something’ about Letters to Kezia which felt wholly original and outside the queue of narrative thread from Puritan Witch.

The best bits I discovered in reading these reviews is how strong and courageous the title lead character was throughout the story itself. These are the kinds of characters I appreciate reading myself, because they add a dimensional leverage to understanding those who walked before us and lived such difficult lives as to provide a road map of bravery for us to follow. Courage in the onslaught of social prejudice and social conviction based on hearsay or supposition is the hardest virtue to encompass into your heart and soul. Your mind is afflicted by what it is sensing, feeling, understanding, and taking in without any method of filtering how it will internalise the bombardment of stimuli. It is only on faith and faith alone that anyone can find solace and peace out of despair. I was sensing this is part of the redemption Rebecca receives and a key thread in how the power of faith can give you the freedom you may or may not find during your lifetime.

My Review of Letters to Kezia:

With a heart heavy with trepidation, Kezia’s mother allows her daughter to finally find a revelation of truth through letters being discovered with the anticipation they would allow Kezia to unearth her paternal past and identity. The first letter we are able to read alongside Kezia is dated 1695, and she’s reading it in 1712, as her mother did not yield in her inability to confront her daughter with a truth, I reckoned she felt she’d take to the grave.

The tangible air between Kezia and her mother is thick and laden with tension intermixed with unadulterated hope; their scene is set rich and warm with both sincerity and the natural world which engulfs their home. Renner has a particular touch for lending a scene a fullness of emotion whilst rooted in imagery which leads you backwards in time. For continuity, I was pleasantly surprised Rebecca Eames’ son was betwixt Kezia’s mother’s conscience and a felicity of charm; as part of this story is re-told outside the letters themselves as if you could use the letter as a portal to visualise the action of the hour the letters are conveying to Kezia as she reads about a specific time in her mother’s younger life before she was betrothed.

Mary (Kezia’s mother) was influenced under the charm of an interred prisoner (Rebecca Eames, son: Daniel) and the grace within her own heart to do right by those who were treated unjustly. Mary felt a quaking of guilt whenever the orders of her towne’s magistrates would order punishment by whip, gallows, or branding; she was not of her generation’s mind to quell out harshness in method of keeping peace and order. In so doing, owning her faith and her heart’s choice to lead with compassion rather than prejudice (as the towne never did recover from the fact previously tried ‘witches’ in Salem were freed); she struck out a path of freedom for Daniel. Her actions were unbound of guilt until she wickered a notion in her soul that she would be unable to return to her sister, Lizzie who was afflicted with epilepsy (controlled only through tinctures of herbs).

Kezia’s mother was bold and brave in an hour of one man’s desperate need to escape, but the toll it was taking on her very soul and anguished fret of worriment over the wickedness the towne would perceive of her contributions much less the abandonment of her sister etched deep inside her to where she struggled to function. She was acting only in the heightened moment where truth, justice, and the power of chance swirled in a sea of murky gray without the benefit of balance between right and wrong.

Unfortunately due to the glued pages, I was unable to read this novel in sequence, skipping a bit forward in order to finish my reading for this review. However, despite the hurdles I had in reading the novel, I can attest to the depth of the emotional charged story — Renner proves to have not only a strong voice in Indie Historical Fiction but a guttingly ache for realism. She doesn’t quite go as far inside Letters to Kezia as I believe she might have in Puritan Witch, although truthfully I am uncertain if she had being that I did not get to read all the pages outright.

Having said that, what staid with me the most is the brutal end to Kezia’s father yet how much light of love and joy of blessing in being her birthright his story emboldened her to feel after reading her mother’s story of how she was bourne. You continue to shift from letter to spoken exchanges of Kezia’s mother’s (Mary) past history, whilst having the letters follow forward. It is a very unique way to tell a story and one I am thankful to have found as it is part epistolary and part flashback of memory.

I am blessed to have been on this blog tour, as despite my attachment to the story itself, what further led me to celebrate the joy in reading the bits I could separate from the glue, is seeing how you can take ancestral data and bridge those small bits of lore into a full-blown story which emotionally pulls you into it’s tide. What an incredible legacy Ms Renner has uncovered and how lovely to think her ancestors are smiling down from heaven knowing their lives have not only touched hers but have sparked a connection amongst those of us who are reading their tales as if we have lived hours inside their shoes.

Peni Jo Renner takes biographical historical fiction to a new sensation of experiencing her ancestor’s heroic lives:

Heroic is not a word I choose lightly but in the case of Renner’s ancestor’s there is no singular word to describe how daringly bold they were when they acted to do what was right in the shadows of a towne bent on justice without probable cause. She wrote a story rooted in realistic truths from relatives who lived and carried with them a sombering legacy of where anything less than extreme measures would befall a quick exit from this earth.

Biographical fiction is one of my favourite sub-genres in literature as it is far more palpable for me to digest than straight-up biographies and/or autobiographies. (a few exceptions do exist; but are rare) I endeavour to seek out as much of these instances of real-life bonefide fact fictionalised into a story as I find it far easier to envision the person’s life through a novel than I do in the tone and setting of a non-fiction piece where I oft-times find it a struggle to grab an oar of attachment into the heart of the person’s life. Fiction allows a measurable grace of both liberty and imagination; knitting out the stitches of a life tapestry through the curiosities of the writer’s own heart and vision for how the person lived, thought, and expressed themselves within the timescape they were bourne.

Renner uses language and certain ‘key’ visualisations to root you inside Letters to Kezia, as you can definitely see how her research led her into the story itself but how she deftly elected not to let the research overtake her own words and clarity of story. Research is vividly on display, giving you a surefire presence of the 17th and 18th Centuries without allowing a misstep out of those eras. Everything inside the novel enhances the flow of the pace as it reads as if you were stepping into this portal as surely to find Mary and Kezia as plain as they are spoken against the page!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

This blog tour is courtesy of: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The Virtual Road Map for “Letters to Kezia” can be found here:

Letters to Kezia Blog Tour via HFVBTs

For readers who would like to gain reader impressions on behalf of the first novel in this series, please draw your attention to the original blog tour for The Puritan Chronicles:

Puritan Witch Blog Tour via HFVBTs

Reader Impressions which helped me understand the beginning of the series:

Review: Puritan Witch by Peni Jo Renner (Blog Tour) – (Just One More Chapter |

Review Puritan Witch, Circa Salem Witch Trails & Interview with Author Peni Jo Renner (Oh, for the Hook of a Book |

Blog Tour: A book review of The Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames by Peni Jo Renner – (History from a Woman’s Perspective |

Find all the wicked happy stories coming soon to Jorie Loves A Story:

Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Letters to Kezia”, author photograph for Peni Jo Renner, author biography, book synopsis, and blog tour banners were all provided by HFVBT (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 27 March, 2015 by jorielov in 17th Century, 18th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Apothecary, Based on an Actual Event &/or Court Case, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Colonial America, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Diary Accountment of Life, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Feminine Heroism, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, History, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Medical Fiction, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Native American Fiction, Naturopathic Medicine, Realistic Fiction

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