The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary

Do you like love stories? If you do, you’ll want to read The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary. Because that’s what this is – a love story. It’s about the love within a family, the love of a family for its pets, and the love of Zee and Zoey for each other and for their family (both two and four legged).

Reading The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey is like sitting down with Deb and going through her family album. The photography (which was mostly done by Deb’s fiancé, Dan) is exquisite. I loved the pictures in the book. They really capture the personalities of Zee, Zoey, the kittens, and everyone else in the pictures. The book is printed in full color on high quality paper that definitely does justice to the photography and the beauty of these very special cats.

The book is written in a conversational tone. The beginning jumps around between places, time, pets, and family members, giving us background on the family before getting to the meat of the story. It’s  called The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey, but there were times I thought it should have been called The Chronicles of Deb Barnes. The book follows Deb’s life as she changes states, jobs, homes, goes through divorce, finds a new person to share her life, goes through a hurricane, gets laid off, and starts on a new adventure! The one staple through it all are the animals that share Deb’s life. You can tell on every page how much these animals are a part of the family and how much they’re cherished.

When the book reaches the point where Zoey joins the family, the focus changes and the book does become more about living with Zee and Zoey, the bond between them, and how special they are. These two cats bonded with each other in a way seldom seen. To them, life was an adventure and they explored it together. Then the kittens joined the picture and the fun really began. Everything was new to them; every day brought new wonders to experience. I think this quote from the book describes it best – “The only thing I can justly compare it to, is the innocent wonder of a small infant or child – the endearing quality of one who is so mesmerized and smitten with the joy of just being, with no expectations, prejudices, or previous tainted judgment, that they are completely incapable of perceiving life, other than through rose-colored glasses.” (pg. 78.) Their approach to life truly exemplified “a journey of the extraordinarily ordinary”.

The book’s strength is also its weakness. Because of its conversational nature, the beginning does tend to meander and jump back and forth through time. I got somewhat confused trying to keep track of who was who and what time period was being talked about. It took a while to get to the point where Zee and Zoey were the focus of the story. There are also a number of run-on sentences and glaring typos and grammatical errors throughout the book. Most probably wouldn’t notice them, but part of mom’s job is to check reports for this kind of stuff so she notices these things. I enjoyed reading The Chronicles of Zee and Zoey despite its faults. If the gorgeous photography and stunning layout aren’t enough to make you want this book, the obvious love exhibited on every page will keep you reading. This book isn’t just for cat lovers. It’s for anyone looking for a story about facing adversity with grace and love. It truly is about taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.

You can order The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary directly from the Zee and Zoey website. http://www.zeezoey.com/the-book.php. The website itself is worth the visit. It has the same gorgeous design as the book. It features information about the book, photos and videos, a link to the blog, and other information.

Make sure you come back next week. It’s Candy’s and EK’s gotcha day and I’m doing a commentathon. Mom’s going to give me 50 cents for each comment. Half the green papers I get are going to Duncan’s Place and the other half is going to the Santa Paws Drive. I need to get lots and lots of comments so please spread the word.

Have a great week everyone!

Disclosure – Deb Barnes provided the book to me at no charge for review purposes. The opinions in this post are entirely mine.

A Visit from Deb Barnes!

I know lots of you are regular visiters of Zee and Zoey’s blog. I bet every one of you is as excited as I am that their human mom, Deb Barnes, is here to tell us about how she came to write a book about them, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary. All yours, Deb!

While writing has always been a passion of mine, until I wrote my first book, The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary, my writing has always been limited to the yearly family newsletter and the occasional corporate letter written at work by me during my day job as an Executive Assistant. So, just how or why does one become an author and how does the creative process itself work?

For me, the book began as a seed of an idea after Zee, my lovable male Maine Coon cat, and Zoey, my high-spirited female Bengal cat fell madly in love and subsequently had a litter of kittens together. I began sending out a weekly series of emails to various family members and friends documenting the growth process of the kittens with a humorous narrative that was complimented by photographs taken by my fiancé, Dan. These emails were sent out religiously every Friday morning and soon became a sensation, as many recipients clamored for a book. I was honored by the compliments, but I hardly took the idea seriously. That was until I was unexpectedly laid off during “Week 7” of the kittens life and had A LOT more free time…

The process that followed was a long and difficult road, filled with uncertainty and severe depression. I knew I wanted to write a story about my cats, but emotionally, I was not capable of being an author with any authority or talent. Being unemployed in my late 40’s was a lesson in humility and I found it difficult to function. I had envisioned a cute and sweet story filled with adorable kittens and humorous antidotes – being that I couldn’t even muster the energy to smile, this was a task too large for me to tackle. As it turns out, my cats and kittens were far wiser than me and were about to teach me some invaluable life lessons.

 It was through them, that I began to see life through their minds eye and the personal revelation was profound. Cats live without judgment and in the moment. They do not dwell on circumstances, and, as long as they are loved, fed, have clean litter and a lap to nap on, then life is good. It was then that I realized I had a story to tell and a message to teach – I wanted to use my cats as more than a cute story about kittens climbing up a curtain. I wanted to use an honest, conversational, warm, and humorous style of writing to share a story that really explored the very real core of being a cat – how they express feelings and emotions, not just with one another, but with the world at large. I felt whether you were a “cat person” or not, that the journey of the chronicle itself, is something we all can relate to in one way or another and I became convinced I needed to share my positive feelings as they did, i.e., to “embrace the ordinary in life and dare to make it extraordinary.”

Once the mental roadblock had been cleared, my true colors emerged and I found out I was a purist by nature, meaning writing on napkins was the most effective way for me to remember an idea, and that most of my ideas stemmed from random moments of the day – normally either while I was at work at inappropriate moments; driving home during hostile rush hour traffic; when I was watching one of my favorite TV shows and my mind would wander; or when I was exhausted and wanted to get some sleep, but my brain just wouldn’t shut off, forcing me to get out of the bed at an ungodly hour to jot down my thoughts.

If I was driving, I would grab any scrap of paper I could find in my purse – check stubs, receipts, shopping lists, lottery tickets – and quickly and incoherently scribble my random thoughts later to translate onto the computer screen. Did this method work? Not really. More times than not, I would have no clue what I had written down and could only pick out one or two legible words. Invariably I would grab the only pen that was out of ink (aren’t they all when you really need one) forcing me to improvise and use either my eyeliner pencil or lipstick as a writing instrument.

No one ever said the life of an author was glamorous, especially the life of an author who writes about her cats. I still scoop litter, I still step in hacked up hairballs, and I still can’t walk one foot in front of the other without worrying about tripping over one of them. They have no respect for my newly appointed title in life and remain ever the masters of myself and my home!

Website – www.zeezoey.com

Thank you Deb for taking time out of your busy schedule to drop by here for a visit. My pals, I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of the book for review. I’ll post it on Sunday.

Candy & EK’s gotcha day is coming up on November 12. In honor of their day, I’m gonna do a commentathon on my November 13th drive. Mom said I could have 50 cents for every comment. I’ll be splitting the green papers between Duncan’s Place and the Santa Paws drive. I better get lots and lots and lots of comments because I want to have  a lot of green papers to send them.

See you Sunday!