Strays – Book Review, Author Interview & Free Book Giveaway!

Iris is terrified of dogs – particularly pit bulls. But perhaps her encounter with a pit bull is just the catalyst she needs to take control of her life…

5.15.15 - Strays3

 

I recently had the opportunity to read and review Jennifer Caloyeras’ new novel, Strays.  She generously sent me a copy and answered a few questions for me.  Now she’d like to give one of you a copy of her book – for FREE!  All you have to do is, in the Facebook comments section, tell us your best story about a stray.  On Sunday we’ll pick a winner, so keep an eye on your “other” inbox!

 

Without giving away too much of the story (I hate spoilers), here is a mini review:

 

Iris Moody is withdrawn and angry – your typical sullen teenager, right?  Well, like most teens, she has every right to be feeling temperamental.  She’s misunderstood, underappreciated, and finding herself in tumultuous situations that make her yearn to be anywhere but here.

 

Iris is incredibly perceptive and wise, but lacking in the self-awareness and confidence she needs to help cope with life’s ever-mounting quandaries.  She’s terrified of dogs – particularly pit bulls.  But perhaps her encounter with a pit bull is just the catalyst she needs to take control of her life…

 

I also had the chance to chat with Jennifer and ask a few questions:

 

Melanie:  What compelled you to write a story involving stray dogs – particularly a pit bull?  Are you involved in animal rescue?

 

Jennifer:  There were a few circumstances that led to this particular novel being written. I was writing the dog column for the Los Feliz Ledger eight years ago when I came across a non-profit based in Santa Monica called K-9 Connection. They take at-risk youth and pair them with rescue dogs that need to be trained. I thought this was a really compelling coupling that would make a great premise for a young adult novel. I was also an owner of an aggressive pit-mix named Willie, so I knew firsthand what it was like to work with this kind of dog and all of the emotions that go along with that.

 

M:  Do you see a bit of yourself in Iris?  Are any of the characters or events based on people or experiences in your life?

 

J:  I think I tend to take more of the emotional impact of a situation and add it to my books rather than an actual situation. Iris has issues dealing with her anger, but unlike Roman, the three-legged pit bull in the story, she tends to keep her anger inside until it festers. I think I tend to do the same. I’m working on it! I definitely share Iris’s love of literature and her appreciation of a good teacher. I’ve been lucky enough to have so many wonderful teachers throughout my life.

 

M:  What was your writing process for Strays?  Did you develop Iris’ character first, and then create a plot, or did you mold your characters around a story?

 

J:  I had a vague notion of what the plot would look like, but it wasn’t until Iris’s character was really hammered out that knew the details of where the plot had to go in order to best tell her story. The sub plot involving her summer school English teacher, Perry, who introduces her to Angela Carter’s short fiction stories as a means to further understand her own story, wasn’t added until after a complete draft was written. I tend to write in layers. The prime story first and then I’ll add additional threads that support the main narrative.

 

M:  Both Strays and your other young adult novel Urban Falcon focus on 16-year-olds.  Is there something about this particular age that has left an impression upon you?

 

J:  I think the teenage years in general are often a time of “firsts.” First kiss. First relationship. There’s an identity search that happens during these years that fascinates me. There’s also a sense of urgency – every emotion seems heightened due to hormones but also because life starts coming at you so quickly in high school.

 

M:  Who do you feel were the most inspirational writers when you were 16?  Who are your favorites now?

 

J:  I always loved everything we read in English class. I remember being particularly moved by John Gardner’s Grendel, which tells the story of Beowolf from the monster’s point of view. I became fascinated by the stories of the “other” – those that are marginalized. This became a thread I followed throughout my academic life in college and in graduate school. In high school, I loved anything written by Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. I still have my copies of these books on my shelf and I love seeing what I wrote in the margins as a high school student. It gives me such great insight as to who I was back then and what I thought was important.

 

I still love all of those books to this day. I am an avid reader (check out my Goodreads page!) and I read everything from novels to young adult to short fiction collections. I particularly love Lorrie Moore, George Saunders and John Ashbury’s poetry. I just finished A.M. Homes’s May We Be Forgiven and I am currently reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.  In the YA world, David Arnold’s Mosquitoland is sitting on my bookshelf and I can’t wait to read it!

 

M:  Do you see yourself writing any future books about dogs?

 

J:  I think that dogs are so ubiquitous, I’m sure another dog will make an appearance in a future novel. As for a novel set around a particular dog, I’m not so sure.

 

M:  What’s the best memory you have about a dog?

 

J:  There are too many to recount! I’ve been lucky to have had so many great dogs in my life! (In fact, I even dedicated my novel, Strays, to the dogs in my life.) I particularly love hiking with my dogs. There’s nothing better than seeing pure joy on my dogs’ faces!

 

To purchase Strays, please click here.

 

To learn more about Jennifer, please visit her website: www.jennifercaloyeras.com

Here are her other social media outlets:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3048559.Jennifer_Caloyeras
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Caloyeras/651747724948017
Twitter: @jencaloyeras <https://twitter.com/jencaloyeras>
Instagram: https://instagram.com/jennifercaloyeras/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/meremade/

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Strays – Book Review, Author Interview & Free Book Giveaway!

  1. After 40 years of taking in strays and adopting through local Humane Societies wherever we were living at the time, they have all taken my heart and I have special memories for each of the 25 plus dogs and 30 plus cats. As I look at the 4 dogs and 4 cats I currently love, I laugh at them sleeping after eating the chicken breasts and rice I cook each and every day for them.

  2. 15 years ago I was riding my bike and saw some small little animal run onto the road, I stopped and crawled down the ditch and found a poor little calico kitten about 3 weeks old, no mother around, I stuck her in my shirt and took her home. It was a struggle to keep her alive but she made it and gave my husband and I nearly 15 years of love devotion, friendship, company. We just lost her April 8 of this year as she was very ill and had to cross over the rainbow bridge. I am crying writing this, we miss her so much. I called her my little ditch bitch with love.

  3. A stray dog was running around in my neighborhood for two weeks before I could catch her. Could not tell what kind of dog it was. Mange, worms, ear infections, stomach infection, fleas, ticks. We were just going to rescue the animal, get it healthy and find it a forever home. I put her in the garage after capturing her at midnight. Could not bring her in because of my pet lab Macy. Every fifteen minutes I would check on this poor animal. It would not eat the food I placed out for her. I held her and cried, as she weighed next to nothing. About the sixth time I checked on her, I brought a pair of scissors with me. I could not see her face with all the mange. I cut the mange around her face, when I saw her eyes I completely melted. This was my new family member and her name is Lucy. She went to the vet the next morning where she spent a week getting healthy. She turned out to be a ten pound poodle. The vet says she was about 2 1/2 to 3 years old and was on the street for about 8 months. It took Lucy a very long time to adjust to being touched, having food on a regular basis. We have had Lucy for ten months now and she is just now looking me in the eyes. She now let’s me rub her belly and dances around my legs when I come home. After just a few weeks, we thought we had made a wrong decision bringing her into Macy’s home. She would bite Macy for no reason. If Macy barked first at a car going by the house, she would get bitten. It got to a point where Macy was afraid to walk past Lucy. Lucy is always in attack mode, trying to keep herself safe. Every day she becomes more loveable and trusting. God blessed us with my smart and wonderful lucy who is now a finicky eater and gave me my first lick last week. Love my two rescues Macy and Lucy.

  4. My wife penny was walking our other 2 rescues in Taos on a gravel road when she heard a little barking. She walked in the ditch and there was this little ball of fuzz covers in oil and grease. She brought him home and washed in our kitchen sink. Penny and I talked about it and we were going to have him go with a group of puppy’s to Colo. Well he had the runs and they wouldn’t take him. Well we kept him. At the time he was 5 wks old the vet said. Bobo slept in a box next to me on the floor with my hand on him and he slept next to me for 14 years. He was the best dog I’ve had or been around. He was our gentle giant at 120 lbs. We had to put him down this last 4th of July. Ya my eyes are watering up. God I miss my bobo. Thanks for letting me share.!!

  5. 5 years ago, I was walking my fur baby, JimmyChoo. It was winter, about 40 degrees & had been raining heavily. That’s when we saw a little white dog walk out into the street right in front of a car! The car stopped and honked, the dog froze, to scared to move…he was shivering and wet. I stepped out into the street and scooped him up, I opened my coat and held his cold little body next to me. He was so pathetic, all skin and bone, obviously blind in one eye, missing hair, and what he had was caked in filth. I took him home, bathed him and discovered he was a poodle mix of some kind. I also realized he was older, and I spent the next month diligently searching for an owner. When I took him to the vet, they told me he was about 10, that he had been mistreated, and that at some point, his pelvis had been crushed because he had been stomped on or run over and had never received medical attention. They said it was a miracle he could walk. My mom fell in love with him, and he went to live with her. He is still with us, and though he suffers occasional and mild seizures (nerve damage from the pelvic injury) , and is now almost completely blind, he is spry, active and still SO full of love! He & JimmyChoo are still best friends….His name is Mr. Weetie Smallz, and he saved us just as much as we saved him!

  6. 5 years ago, I was walking my fur baby, JimmyChoo. It was winter, about 40 degrees & had been raining heavily. That’s when we saw a little white dog walk out into the street right in front of a car! The car stopped and honked, the dog froze, to scared to move…he was shivering and wet. I stepped out into the street and scooped him up, I opened my coat and held his cold little body next to me. He was so pathetic, all skin and bone, obviously blind in one eye, missing hair, and what he had was caked in filth. I took him home, bathed him and discovered he was a poodle mix of some kind. I also realized he was older, and I spent the next month diligently searching for an owner. When I took him to the vet, they told me he was about 10, that he had been mistreated, and that at some point, his pelvis had been crushed because he had been stomped on or run over and had never received medical attention. They said it was a miracle he could walk. My mom fell in love with him, and he went to live with her. He is still with us, and though he suffers occasional and mild seizures (nerve damage from the pelvic injury) , and is now almost completely blind, he is spry, active and still SO full of love! He & JimmyChoo are still best friends….His name is Mr. Weetie Smallz, and he saved us just as much as we saved him!

  7. 🙁 🙁 🙁 :'( No One liked my page :'( :'( <3 <3 My Name Elisa 🙂 i'am 18 years old, please like my page 🙂 I will send u a friend request & inbox u <3 you will never regret, 🙁 i promise you, please support me by just 1 like (y) <3 <3

  8. 🙁 🙁 🙁 :'( No One liked my page :'( :'( <3 <3 My Name Elisa 🙂 i'am 18 years old, please like my page 🙂 I will send u a friend request & inbox u <3 you will never regret, 🙁 i promise you, please support me by just 1 like (y) <3 <3

  9. I was home from work when I heard pitiful meowing from the back. A tiny black & white kitten bedraggled & so small. When I approached him he hissed as fiercely as a tiger, I fell in love at that moment. It took some food to get him to approach me. Finally he was purring & eating so I could get a better look at him. Little guy had mites in his ears & fleas all over him. He let me pick him up after his belly was full & my heart melted some more. A bath in a bucket was not his idea of a good time, a little spitfire he was! LOL! A trip to the vet the next day, he cried & howled the whole way there. Would he ever forgive me? He did! Ever what his experiences had been in the outdoors scared him so bad he did not want to go out again in the 15 years he lived.He never was much of a lap cat; but when he honored the kids & I we knew it was his way of letting us know he loved us as much as we loved him! My oldest son named him Neeko, a character from one of his fantasy books. Neeko was the keeper of treasures. He was a treasure to us, he was family!

  10. I was home from work when I heard pitiful meowing from the back. A tiny black & white kitten bedraggled & so small. When I approached him he hissed as fiercely as a tiger, I fell in love at that moment. It took some food to get him to approach me. Finally he was purring & eating so I could get a better look at him. Little guy had mites in his ears & fleas all over him. He let me pick him up after his belly was full & my heart melted some more. A bath in a bucket was not his idea of a good time, a little spitfire he was! LOL! A trip to the vet the next day, he cried & howled the whole way there. Would he ever forgive me? He did! Ever what his experiences had been in the outdoors scared him so bad he did not want to go out again in the 15 years he lived.He never was much of a lap cat; but when he honored the kids & I we knew it was his way of letting us know he loved us as much as we loved him! My oldest son named him Neeko, a character from one of his fantasy books. Neeko was the keeper of treasures. He was a treasure to us, he was family!

  11. Once, i was on my way to railway station to depart my mom for her journey. We boarded auto-rickshaw n d stray dog of my area who loves me lot, saw me leaving n tried to stop me by running beside auto-rickshaw, bt when auto didn’t stopped for a while he increased his speed n went bang in front of auto n made it to complete halt. on dat i got down from auto n gave him reassurance that i would b back soon. He took my assurance n waited at d very same place from where i left, till i came back. It was surprising for me on my return to see him at exact same spot waiting just for my return. I was deeply touched by his gesture of immense love n decided to give him an treat, so i went to nearest meat shop, brought some for him and then observed him eat it with immense satisfaction. We still share great bond n love for each other.

  12. my dog river was a stray rescued her she probably was found near a river she has arthritis and takes meds bt a beautiful dog

  13. When I bought my home I just knew it needed a four footed friend, I went to the shelter and there I met Wilber…my forever buddy, no one wanted him because he was 10+ yrs and intact with bad teeth…me, being a disabled lady, false teeth and COPD figured Hey, if I can give him a year of love so be it…that was two years ago and Wilber is one healthy guy and never leaves my side <3

  14. Big Bob, pictured in my ‘selfie’ , came barreling down the footpath towards us at 6.30am Christmas morning 3 years ago…. I had two dogs with me (one now deceased, the other is the little one in the ‘selfie’ – both were from the Lost Dogs Home and I’d only had them a year). I couldn’t tell if this big dog running towards us was friendly, so I just stood and waited, planning what to do if he was a nasty dog. When he got to us, the dogs all greeted each other like long lost friends. There was no one around and no cars. I said to him, well, you better come home with us then. He had no intention of doing anything else. Long story short, I surrendered him but no one claimed him, so went and got him a week later. He is an amazing dog with a huge heart and personality.

  15. Our girl, Hugs, was a stray rescued in Hughes, AR by Rocky Rdige Refuge. A big rescue mission took place there, several years ago, because strays were taking over the downtown area. Hugs was found with a broken back hip and a small group of puppies by her side. The rescue group believed they were her puppies which her and the pups high on the rescue immediately list. After talking with some town folks, it was discovered that her hip was broken in a hit and run that also killed the mother of the puppies. Our girl, Hugs, had been caring for the pups ever since, even with a broken hip. After being rescued, she had to be tethered to a tree because her hunting instincts were so strong she kept killing the neighbors chickens. After another year and a half of being overlooked by adopters, we found her. We adopted her at 3 yrs old and became her first family. Such a special girl that everyone falls in love with. Needless to say, she is getting her much overdue attention and affection.

  16. A stray cat started hanging around my yard and soon I noticed she was pregnant. I set up a crate for her but on a stormy night when I tried to find her I couldn’t. The next morning she was on the porch to eat as usual, but she was skinny. After she ate I followed her down the street and watched her go under a neighbor’s porch. I was able to crawl some of the way in enough to reach her newborn babies. I ran back home, retrieved a box and was able to reach 4 babies. I took them home and left them covered in blankets so I could go back and get the others. After taking off the first rung of the neighbors steps,( with his permission) I only found 1 more kitten. Momma cat had taken off by now. I put all 5 babies in a blanket in my bathtub and rushed to the vet for an orphan cat kit, KMR and a bottle, so I could bottle feed the babies. The momma cat came back shortly after so I put her and babies in the crate. One kitten did not make it. The other 4 seemed to be ok. At 2wks of age I took the babies the vet because I noticed their eyes were oozing infection. I got amoxicillin and eye ointment. The kittens are now 4 weeks old and seem to be thriving. Momma just got spayed and vaccinated. I am trying to wean the kittens with mush, and then will adopt them out. This has been a real experience, but I have enjoyed every minute. I have other stray in my yard, stray cats, and a stray grounding ( he’s been here a year. Never a dull moment in my backyard.

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