Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review: "The Chronicles Of Zee & Zoey, A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary" By Deborah Barnes (And A Give-Away!)

How do I even attempt to complete a task as "ordinary" as a book review and make it "extraordinary?"

How do you take an act as simple and "ordinary" as reading a book and turn it into an "extraordinary" experience?

The answers to those questions can be found by reading The Chronicles Of Zee & Zoey, an "extraordinary"  story which not only chronicles
Author Deborah Barnes' life, but the lives of two of her seven cats;  Zee, her adorable and lovable male Maine Coon and Zoey her female "wild-child leopard inspired Bengal cat, who fell madly, deeply in love." The Chronicles Of Zee & Zoey is  the first (of what I am certain will be many) books by Author Deborah Barnes.

I was one of a few lucky individuals who was offered a "sneak peek" of Deb's manuscript this past summer. I had the additional honor of supplying a comment for the back cover:

"The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey are a treasure, simply enchanting, captivating and engrossing, both as a true story the author shares about her life with her feline clan, and as a visual masterpiece of stunning photographs and delightful artwork. They say animals are drawn to those who emit a "blue light" and Deb must have this aura radiating from her like a floodlight because she doesn't just WRITE about her love for her cats, she LIVES it as well. Because of this innate understanding she has for this beloved species and the trust they have for her; she is able to translate the most ordinary of everyday life events into a story that is nothing less than extraordinary!"

Webster defines the word "ordinary" as being "common, an everyday occurrence, unremarkable."

There are literally scads of books about cats on the market.  That in itself is "ordinary."

How does one take a common topic,  one's life with cats, and make it "extraordinary?"  Webster defines  "extraordinary" as  "going beyond what is usual, regular, customary." He defines it further as "exceptional to a very marked extent."

The Chronicles Of Zee & Zoey ARE "exceptional to a very marked extent."

- What is the likelihood that you will lose your job after dedicating most of your adult life to it?

-What is the likelihood of turning that "ordinary" yet devastating experience into a life-changing extraordinary journey?

-What is the likelihood that a cat who is not one of the namesakes of this story being the reason this story exists?  That cat would be Deborah's beloved cat "Kit"  who as Deborah says "without her, this tale would surely never exist."

-What is the likelihood that you will have two cats living in your home who "fall in love" and proceed to have the most amazing kittens stirring in  YOU a feral, protective instinct and love the magnitude of which you would never have believed was possible?

-What is the likelihood that  your own life's story would run parallel to that of your cats? YOU  meet the "man of your dreams" (which translates to "he loves ME AND he loves CATS!"), and he is a photographic genius to boot?

-What is the likelihood of  "ordinary" acts such as watching the  The Ellen Show and learning about Oprah's "vision board"  resonating with you so powerfully that they  inspire you to begin to make monumental life changes?

 -What is the likelihood of embarking on and completing the daunting task of writing a book about your life, replete with lessons learned, as a result of observing and making sense of the behavior  of your beloved feline family?

 -What is the likelihood of writing  in such a descriptive, loving and insightful way that the reader feels your pain, laughs at some of your hilarious experiences,  gets into your head and can find parallels from your experiences and relate them to their own lives? Not only is this not very likely, it is an "extraordinary" feat.

Deborah Barnes in The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey has taken what to some would be an "ordinary" story and made it an "extraordinary" lesson of life and love.

This book isn't just a "book", certainly not, that would be  completely "ordinary."  This book  is a sumptuous banquet. It is a banquet that will stimulate  your senses.

You will love the feel of this book, it is an ample size, the paper is of superb quality. I am not and never will be a Kindle girl. I need to delight in the sensation of holding  a book in my hands. I even find comfort in the the smell of the paper a book is printed on. The Chronicles Of Zee & Zoey more than satisfy those senses.

You will love the look of this book. When I received mine I literally and audibly gasped in awe and delight. It is simply breathtaking. You will be hard pressed to find anything like it.  There are literally hundreds of  Disney-worthy, art museum quality photographs lovingly and masterfully created by Deb's fiancee, Dan Power.

  Each page is bordered by artwork that is both erethral and  whimsical, giving this "real life" story a "fairy tale" flavor. The pages are  simply stunning and captivating,  they are  the brainchild of Deb but superbly executed by Bright Pink Studio. This isn't a book that you will  relegate to the bowels of your bookshelf. It is a book that will wrap itself around you like a warm afghan, it will satisfy your soul while luring you into it's depths of captivating images and literary brilliance, it is a book that GIVES as much as you will want to savor and share it again and again.

That in a nutshell is The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey. And THAT, my friends, is "EXTRAORDINARY"

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: "Deborah Barnes currently resides in South Florida and after an unexpected life changing event, she decided to follow her dreams of becoming an author and used the relationship of her cats as inspiration for her first book. She also writes the popular blog, Zee & Zoey's Chronicle Connection, that is a collection of beautiful photos, artwork, and heartfelt stories about her feline crew." You can also visit her exquisite website here.

You may browse The Chronicles Of Zee & Zoey,  better yet, you can PURCHASE the book HERE

You may buy The Chronicles Of Zee & Zoey on Amazon but if you purchase directly through Deb's site (click HERE ) you will receive your book beautifully wrapped in custom leopard tissue wrap, you will also receive  a Zee & Zoey sticker and a bookmark!   Deb will also provide an inscription,  a personal and keepsake touch, especially if you are presenting the book as a gift!
Deb "rockin'" her  trademark leopard

And...Deb generously offered to give ONE lucky reader of Cat Chat  (U.S. and CANADA only please) their own copy of The Chronicles Of Zee & Zoey!

HOW TO ENTER: Just leave a comment telling me how your cat(s) or dog(s) have made your life go from the "ordinary" to the "extraordinary!" The DEADLINE to enter is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH at 11PM EASTERN. The WINNER will be announced WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30th.

Good luck and make this an "extraordinary" day!


  1. Aunty Caren,
    "And...Deb generously offered to give ONE lucky reader of Cat Chat (U.S. and CANADA only please) their own copy of The Chronicles Of Zee & Zoey!"
    AGAIN???? I'm moving to North America, NOW! purrr....meow!

  2. What a wonderful review! This is definitely one for the reading list!

    ...So how has my cat Katie turned my life from ordinary to extraordinary? Well Katie's blog was also inspired by a life-changing event. And through her blog we have both found our voices. We have a bond that is very rooted, in part because it's been documented through the blog. Katie makes me laugh. And I love being able to share some of this humor with our blogging friends. It's my way of keeping things light. Life should never be taken too seriously. That's just how we like to roll.

    ; ) Glogirly

  3. I've never been one of those who has to have the latest, has to get it now. After reading this review - throw that idea out the window. I have to have this book! Wow!! I can only say that my life changed forever with my first cat; I learned what's really important in life, and to not hold back. They have a way of teaching us that ;)

  4. Hi Cody & Caren,
    I would love to read this book! Having rescued Bullet (chihuahua) and Trent(long hair cat) from their situations, they warm my heart everyday to see how they have grown and come out of their shell so to speak. When I see how Trent is brave now and lovingly trusts, it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for the chance to win this book.

  5. Dear Caren, I always love your reviews !
    Even this book I already read it, and I totally agree with you every single words : )

  6. I think every review of Deb's book has shown a different slant and all of them good!

    Great job x

  7. My old cat was nearly twenty-one when she left me. That was nearly a decade ago. I don't miss her any less with the passage of time. As Evan Jones said, "How do you begin to mourn a purring, plaintive shadow?"

  8. Looks like a fun book...i love the cover, so cute

  9. GORGEOUS cover! Wonderful trailer, amazing review and yay for beautiful Deborah and Zee and Zoey!!!

    On my wishlist!!! Take care

  10. There are not enough words to thank you Caren for such an extraordinary review. But, being that you truly grasp the essence of what I wanted the reader to garner from the book, it is no surprise. You have touched on so much of what the book is about and expressed it so vividly in this review. I hope readers will be intrigued by your interpretation and I am so happy that as a result of this book, I have a cherished dear friend in my life – a classic example of a moment in life changing from “ordinary to extraordinary.”

  11. As you know, we love this book - it truly is extraordinary. Great review!

  12. I bet you know well how Eva has turned our ordinary life into an extraordinary one : )

    Thanks for the review! I'll keep the book in the list but it definitely will take a while before I clear my desk. LOL!

  13. @Ingrid ohhhh yes I know you LOVED this book as well from YOUR amazing review! Thank you! :)

    @Deb THANK YOU! For me there aren't enough words in the English language to accurately convey just how "extraordinary" your book is. I have gone back to it again and again, and will continue to do so. I cherish you and our friendship as well. I am thrilled that you are happy with the review, I spent MANY hours with writer's block to have it convey exactly what I wanted it to. Who would have thought a chance encounter on Twitter would have brought two such extraordinary women together? :)

    @Old Kitty thank you!! xoxoxoxo to you and Charlie

    @Novroz it is a truly extraordinary book, even for turtle lovers! If you love the cover you MUST take a look at the rest!

    @Susan the quote was amazing. I feel the same about my 18 yr old kitty who passed in 2007. ((((hugs)))) to you and I am so sorry

    @Caro THANK YOU and I completely agree! It is interesting to see everyone's interpretation. They have all been fabulous!

    @Mr Puddy Awwww you are always so kind to me! I am thrilled that you enjoy my reviews. Frankly they are my favorite part of blogging. I love doing them and am thrilled that my words resonated with you! Your review was darned good as well! xoxoxoxo

    @Colleen thank you for sharing a little bit more about your babies with us. I know so much about Bullet but I know very little about your kitty. I would love to hear more! Good luck! Love you!

    @Kim I am deeply flattered and I THANK YOU! There had already been quite a large number of reviews for this book that had published and frankly that was my biggest concern. I was concerned that I didn't want to just "parrot" what others had said. It was important to me to make sure that my review also stood out in a significant way and your comment makes me feel as if I accomplished that. Thank you!

  14. That's quite an incredible review. The cover is fantastic, as is the last photo/illustration ("The End"), so we imagine the book is delight from start to finish!

  15. WE already have the book since we won the giveaway on Cat Wisdom 101 and it is a terrific book. Good reading.

  16. What a beautiful cover. I might have to get my paws on that one.

  17. Sounds like a wonderful read - count us in.

    How did my cats change me and my life - they got me into blogging, rescuing cats and volunteering for local shelters. I can't do enough to help all animals out there in our world.

  18. @Cats of Wildcat Woods OMG it IS! I wish you the best of luck in the contest! Your cats certainly enabled you to give the most precious gift back, YOU!

    @Sharon, go to deb's website and browse additional pages. Being the artist that you are, I am sure you will be delighted!

    @Marg congratulations on winning the book at Cat Wisdom 101. Glad you confirmed how superb this book is!

    @Fuzzy Tales THANK YOU! Please visit Deb's blog and you can browse additional pages of the book. You will be in awe as I was! It is truly a visual and literary delight!

  19. This sounds like a great read! Mes will has to get Mommy to buy it!

  20. Caren,you did Deb and her beautiful book justice with this spectacular review. Please don't enter us in the contest since we've done our own giveaway but wish to add: Deb in person is the cat's meow and I love her!

  21. @Repositorio thank you!

    @Layla yep they went through. I just was gone all afternoon, sorry!! Thank you for your kind words! Yep I know Deb is just fantastic in person, I had the pleasure of meeting her at BlogPaws! I adore her! :)

    @Nellie I can enter you in the contest if you would like! Wait and see if you win! Good Luck!

  22. They are just the most amazing bunch and the book looks every bit as amazing!

  23. My Human is an English teacher so she is always reading novels, about PEOPLE (as if!), but even she thought this might just possibly be interesting. Gee, maybe she'll read something *I'd* like--ya think?

  24. This book is sure getting some great reviews and it's on my "must buy" list!! But of course, it would be even better to win!!! (and if I've already bought it and do get lucky to win, then my kitty lover sister would get an extra special Christmas present!).

    My cats have turned my life from ordinary to extraordinary just by their loving presence. I mean come on, what life could be ordinary with a cat in it???

    P.S. Linda answered your comment on the blog about the leash thing.

  25. Hi Caren and Cody....great book review. I'd seen some photos of all of you at the Cat Writers meeting and thought Deb Barnes really knew how to show her cat-self off nicely! The book sounds really delightful. As for how my cat Sam has changed my life from ordinary to extraordinary - "let me count the ways!". I've always had cats in my life but my husband had ZERO experience with cats until we adopted Sam from the shelter. What a GREAT introduction to felinicity he has been for him. Sam's been a huge and happy addition to our lives. He has been with me through chemo a few years ago, has learned how to read our moods perfectly, brought out the very best in both of us, and although he's almost 12,continues to make every single day an adventure. If we win the book, you'd better believe that when I read it, Sam will be on my lap listening to every word!

    Pam (Mom of Sam)

  26. Hi Pam(Sam!!) Sooooo good to see you here! Thank you!!! I have to tell you, I wasn't at the Cat Writer's Conference but I WAS at BlogPaws. Maybe you saw a photo of that? Awwwww the story of Sam nearly brought me to tears!!! He DEFINITELY had a profound influence on your life! I am happily entering you in the contest and wishing you the BEST of luck!!!

    @Julia no matter who would get it if you win I am wishing you the best of luck! Thanks about Linda, I had seen it, responded and I also printed out her superior advice! Thanks for letting me know though in the event I hadn't seen it but I did! I can't imagine a life without a cat either! Good luck!

  27. I am your newest GFC follower, I would love a follow back. Happy Thanksgiving!

  28. "WOW!" is an understatement for this review. I read the book and was equally moved by this review. No need to enter me in the contest as I've done a review and still pick up this book to revisit chapters to lift me up on a difficult day. It's truly inspiring!

  29. @Christine, I am deeply flattered and I THANK YOU! I was about to go to bed and when I read your comment I will sleep with an enormous smile on my face. I had read yours as well and it was INCREDIBLE. (I sure hope I left a comment!!!) Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and so good to see you again!