Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review: We Bought A Zoo: A Memoir by Benjamin Mee PLUS a GIVEAWAY!!!

"The amazing true story of a young family, a broken down zoo, and the 200 wild animals that change their lives forever."

Benjamin Mee was living that life that he thought he wanted. In the summer of 2004 he has moved his young family to rural France, leaving behind years of busy London life but taking his writing career with him. He is the proud owner of two very rustic barns that need enormous amounts of work. Perfect for a writer of do-it-yourself columns, he will have plenty of inspiration.

Life, as it is wont to do, intervenes. Benjamin's lovely young wife Katherine is diagnosed with a brain tumor. She is treated aggressively and early but the type of cancer is one of the fastest growing kinds and is likely to recur. With admirable courage, the couple faces the unthinkable. The treatment is successful and they have hope.

At some point during the crisis, Benjamin's sister sends him a pamphlet of a zoo that is for sale in Dartmoor, England. Somehow, this is what he has always wanted. In a fantastic co-operative effort, his entire extended family bands together to try to make the dream a reality. After much exhausting back-and-forth the zoo is purchased and the family moves in.

Now the pressure really mounts as Benjamin, Katherine, their small children, his Mom and his brother Duncan all work together to turn the run-down zoo back into a thriving business. In the midst of the chaos, Katherine's two year remission comes to an end and Benjamin is sidetracked, caring for his now terminally ill wife.

When I received this book in the mail I opened it up and read the jacket flap. Just that, and I was teary-eyed. So I turned to the first page and before I even looked up I was on page 120. No one should have to deal with the kind of stress that this family went through. But the zoo, while a source of enormous pressure to get it up and running, was also the path through the grief and the way back to life. The animals need you every day, even days when you don't want to get out of bed. The story is engrossing and heartbreaking at times, but ultimately life-affirming and I was cheering for this family and thrilled for their success.

Visit the website for Mr. Mee's zoo, Dartmoor Zoological Park.

We Bought A Zoo is published by Weinstein Books. ISBN 978-160286048-3

Order We Bought A Zoo from Amazon

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!!

Weinstein Books has generously provided me with a brand new, hardback copy of We Bought A Zoo. Would you like to win?

Here's what you do...

For one entry leave a comment here telling me the name of any animal at the Dartmoor Zoological Park (except for Tamzin, he's on the home page, too easy) Hint: look at the Gallery page!

For an extra two entries blog about the giveaway and link back here. That's it! Enter up till 11:59 pm Eastern Time on October5. Winner will be drawn at random. USA and Canada entries only, for mailing purposes.


Ann said...

Jasper (looks like a parrot). Also a favourite vacation spot of mine.

Alea said...

I have this book to read too. The idea of it is so striking and to think it's a true story!

Please DON'T enter me :D Just wanted to leave you a comment!

The Tome Traveller said...

Thanks Ann, for being the first entry! Have you been to DZP since the soggy summer of 2007? I would really like to go!

Alea, when you start this one you won't want to put it down, so plan ahead!

Sandra said...

I really want to read this. I like Solomon the lion, such a kingly name. Please enter me. Thank you.

Cindy said...

My son loved to see the all the pics but his favorite was Vervet monkeys. I heard alot about this book would love to read it.


MonieG said...

Douglas the llama is another animal at the zoo. Please enter me to win. I've added your giveaway to my blog Reading With Monie. Thanks!

mollishka said...

I'll go with the tapir named Ronnie as my entry.

MenagerieNik said...

Jilly the gorgeous female African Serval is the one i was drawn to. I really love that you linked to the zoo and made a visit there part of your contest! I was hoping to get this book through Early Reviewers on LT but didn't. Now my fingers are crossed that I win it here!

Dawn (sheIsTooFondOfBooks) said...

I'm fond of the Amur Tigers, Blotch and Stripe!

What a compelling story; a real focus for Benjamin and the rest of the family when his wife's remission ended.

Thanks for the opportunity!

Becca said...

I would love to read this book. I happen to like snakes so I'll go with Kevin the Red Tailed Boa.

Amanda said...

I nominated you for the "I Love Your Blog Award" and wrote about it here
. If you'd like to accept and participate here are the rules:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

S. Krishna said...

Vlad the Tiger - what a name!

Jen said...

Lady Penelope- the gorgeous (and majestic) wolf. I've got my fingers crossed I'd love love love to read this.
Thanks for the entry

Melissa said...

This looks like a great book. I really liked Josie the African Lioness.

Alyce said...

Coco the Caracara. I picked him because I thought it was fun to say. :)

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

blueviolet said...

Sovereign the Jaguar- That's such a cool name.

Wendi B. - Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reading in Seattle said...

I just love Foxy!! She is so cute! :) This is a great giveaway - I have heard such wonderful things about this book!

Please include me. I am also adding this giveaway to my giveaway sidebar (I'm not quite sure how to "link back" but I'll try)

Thanks! Wendi

kaye said...

I am a chocoholic so I'd have to pick Fudge- the brown bear. Besides, he/she is really cute!

Alyce said...

I blogged about it here:

Carol said...

I liked Kiruna,the Siberian Lynx.
mittens0831 AT aol DOT com

janetfaye said...

Stanley - Raccoon

I love the name.

janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

Becca said...

I reviewed this book too. After I won it from you! Thanks
The review (if you are interested) is here:

tashiana said...

1. the cover's cool
2. your use of language is particularly nice in this review
3. the decision to buy a zoo sounds pretty freakin random
4. the comment count goes way up when there's a giveaway

but who am i to talk? im commenting on every review 1/2because the great majority of your reviews are really interesting and 1/2 for a giveaway

Thank you!!

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.