Sunday, 13 November 2011

An Extraordinary Book!

Book Review - The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey, A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary

I am delighted to have the opportunity to review this book now Austin has given it his very positive considered opinion; here are my thoughts.

To handle it's a lovely weighty tome even though it has a soft cover and visually it is stunning. This is because each glossy page is a well thought out piece of art combining narrative, graphics and photos (the latter beautifully taken and produced by Deb's fiancé, Dan Power). The attention to detail shows this is a labour of love. Also it is funny!

What is it about? At the centre of the story is the love affair (no, it really is!) between Zee, a characterful and lovable Maine Coon (being a Brit I had to look that up in Wiki) and Zoey a beautiful strong willed, but tiny, Bengal. Because of the subject matter I thought it might be a bit twee, but to my delight it is anything but!  The story takes off when the kitty liaison accidentally produces four kittens after Deb misses the narrow window of opportunity to get the cats "seen to"!  When she starts sending weekly kitten update emails to friends and family, there gradually forms a germ of an idea for a book.

Deb's own life events are interwoven into the story of Zee, Zoey and the kittens; her ups and downs, joys and sorrows; family, other pets, both past and present are all part of the patchwork of her life and are included in the narrative which adds depth and perspective.  

One major event is when both Deb and Dan are made redundant on the same day! The emotional and economic turmoil that inevitably follows and the way they deal with it shows great resilience and determination to overcome. The cats (and especially the growing kittens) are an intricate part of this process.  Deb has gained a great deal from interacting with her menagerie and her observations are insightful and humorous. She shows how our kitties can turn the ordinary life events into extraordinary experiences and how, seen through their eyes, we can embrace the simple and uncomplicated to enrich our lives.

When you come across a beautifully produced book like this, you might be forgiven for thinking that it's all about the pictures, and the words are somehow inferior or of secondary importance; but in this book both are of equal value. The writing is stand out and can stand alone, but to have both the stunning photos and the warm and amusing narrative is ... well, it's a two-for-one offer you can't refuse. It is unique!

Some random things I have gleaned from my reading of the book:
Cats don't care if you like them on facebook! 
Deb's gynaecologist thinks she is a certifiable nutter! 
Cats can switch on the tv and watch Jeopardy!
Fleas can be hilarious, but only when they have a death wish! 
Both Deb and Dan are allergic to their cats!
Oh and there is a brilliant chapter on Cattisms and Cattitudes. All cat owners will relate and laugh!

I could say a lot more, but hope this has whetted your appetite to want to check it out for yourself. It would make a terrific Christmas present. ..  just saying!

This is the first book by Deborah Barnes and I hope it won't be her last!
I suspect that all readers of my blog will enjoy it, whether they are cat people, dog people or people people!

You can reach Deborah and see plenty more of all the beautiful cats on the wonderful Zee & Zoey website. Check it out. You won't be disappointed :-)


  1. Carolyn and Austin -

    Thank you for this wonderful review! You have taken from the book just what I hoped you would - it is a real, heartfelt, inspirational, yet humorous foray into the world of living with cats. Sometimes we need humor to get through stressful times and I love that you found the chapter on me versus one million fleas something to smile about. It certainly was no laughing matter at the time, but when I could finally step back from the situation, I was able to write about it in a way that made fun of a larger than life situation! You have a knack for reviewing books and I really enjoyed your interpretation of the story.

  2. Oh we love Zee and Zoey! We're gonna make sure our mom puts this book on her Christmas list! Thanks for the great review!!

  3. It sounds like a great book. I was lucky enough to win it over at Cat Wisdom 101 but haven't gotten it yet. So I am looking forward to it. Thanks for a great review.

  4. what a wonderful review. You have indeed whetted my appretite to have mommy read it to me.

  5. I love your description "each glossy page is a well thought out piece of art combining narrative, graphics and photos." It truly is one of the most beautifully produced cat books I've come across. That, combined with the content, makes it a real treasure.

  6. Excellent review of a book I adore. Deb informed me that a copy is winging its way to Marg, the winner of our giveaway.

  7. Wow !!! What a wonderful review !!! and I love your style !!! I'm sure everyone will have this book sure Christmas !

  8. That´s a wonderful review of the book.
    I maneged to get my mom to try to order the book at Zee and Zoey´s website and do you know what ??
    She couldn´t order it here from Sweden.
    We had to go to instead and there it was of course out of stock :(
    Stupid , stupid mom ! I told her to order the book weeks ago !!!

  9. We TOTALLY think Mommy should read this to us as our bedtime stories!

    *rummages thru her purse to find credit card*

  10. Kjelle-

    We are thrilled you are going to order our book and are sorry you had trouble getting it!! Unfortunately, shipping orders from the US internationally is too expensive, so I have to direct orders to Amazon from my website. Unfortunatley I can't control the inventory situation at Amazon - they should order more books so that they stay in stock, especially this time of year. Please be patient and try again - I know more books are on the way, or you can be put on a wait list!!

    Deb Barnes

  11. Thanks for your enthusiasm everyone. I know you won't be disappointed!

    Kjelle, I'm in UK and I think I must have got the last of Amazon's current stock as they have shipped today. Keep trying as Deb says, Amazon have been a bit taken by surprise, I think x

  12. Yes , Skicka en kommentar means send a comment :)
    You can soon speak swedish really good !!

  13. Fantastic job on the review, the book sounds fabulous!


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