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3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  70 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Stray traces the harrowing paths of addicts at the West Oaks treatment center, the stray pets at the next door animal shelter, and the caregivers who serve them both.

After an alcohol-induced seizure during his father's funeral, Thomas Cleaves remains sober and becomes a therapist to help others just like him recover from their addiction. After trying to start a family, his
Kindle Edition, 238 pages
Published (first published November 29th 2010)
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This my review I put on Amazon.

This is an amazing book. If you ever had a problem with any addiction or wondered about someone in your life who has, this will send chills through you. Brutally written and sparing no feelings this will make you understand what life is really about for those in trouble. I had to put it down a couple of times to give myself a break. Great story, draws you in and won't let up until you are done. If you want to read something totally different, something just not re
I have taken a day after finishing Stray to let it "sit" whilst I process my feelings and thoughts around it. Firstly, I am a huge fan of Mark Matthews and his writing. I knew this book was going to be different to the two I have read most recently, Milk-Blood and On the Lips of Children, both of these awesome books fall under the urban horror category. Stray was something different again but I went in with a really open mind and no expectations.

We follow the journey of a few characters in this
Stray is about addiction, yes. But mostly it is about relationships and the bonds that keep us all from going astray. Whether it's your wife or a hardscrabble mutt on the side of the highway, it's the connections to other creatures in the world that give us our forever homes. The writing here is clean, vivid, and wildly empathetic to all the beasties who take shelter in communal spaces. Stray sings.

A note about the form: Self-publishing and e-books have opened the floodgates for writers everywh
This book was outstanding. When I first started to read the book it took me a moment to see which direction this book was going to take. It touched my life in a way no book as! If you have someone in your life who was or is now an addict, this will touch home in so many ways. This book is well written and easy to follow. It takes someone who is down on their luck and starts to adopt stray animals, these animals start to give the character a new lease on the out look of life. On page 194 there is ...more
Beckimoody Moody
This was one of my favorite books lately. It is a surprisingly gentle and sweet story about a counselor in a drug rehab center and his clients. Their stories intertwine and flow around the stories of the dogs in the shelter across the parking lot. The author treats the addicts with a great deal of respect and compassion.
Caroline Barker
3.5 stars preferably!

In between the fantasy, paranormal and romance reads I always enjoy a book that brings me back down to earth. Even though still a fictional story, Stray is a little more realistic, focusing on the unfortunates that are too easily pulled down into drug and alcohol addiction. However, amid the darkness and despair of some, Stray also offers hope and a brighter side with some very sweet, emotional and touching moments.

The story opens up following the Tom’s life, along with some
Most of the books I choose to read are for pure pleasure. That is why most of the time I pick romance or mystery/suspense books. Very rarely do I read something that makes me think a lot while I'm in the process of reading it. Honestly, I would not have read "Stray" had it not been for a social media connection I have with the author, Mark Matthews. When I found out fellow runner, Mark, was an author I wanted to read his books. First, I read "The Jade Rabbit" and just like this book it made me t ...more
This was a great read and once I got through to the middle I binge read the rest of it last night until far too late in the morning. It's a very compelling read, evoking very real feelings. The glimpse in to the lives of the addicts, the counselor, the recovering alcoholic, all of it made a connection to my own life and my own experiences these situations. The counselor's deep rooted feelings of inadequacy and personal struggles are what make the story exceptional. The blossoming relationship th ...more
I picked up this book when it was free at Amazon. (It still may be free).
I really wasn't expecting that much...I certainly did not expect such a well written story.
This story rang true for me in many different ways... the stories regarding addiction, the information on what really happens at local pet shelters, even the family dynamics of some of the characters.
I think this book was interesting and (again) very well written. I'm going now to go see if he has written any others.

Noted: Since I wro
Becky Sherriff

This is the first book I have read by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was completely engaged from the moment I picked up the book till the end.

The story is set around the character of Thomas Cleaves, he works as a substance abuse therapist at West Oaks Recovery Centre. Thomas himself is also a recovering alcoholic. The recovery centre is situated next door to Argos Animal Shelter. I wouldn't have thought a story could tie in an Animal Shelter and a recovery centre but the author does
Tabitha Ormiston-Smith
The author of this book evidently forgot to have it proof read. The reading experience is badly marred by constant eruptions of illiteracy, as "she had went", "he wanted to lay down", and of course the usual quota of misused apostrophes.

Ordinarily I wouldn't even keep reading encountering this level of poor literacy skill. However, the book itself is well structured, with an original, intricate and clever plot. The central theme of interrelatedness was well made out and reflected by the structu
I found this book to be an interesting mix of story and characters. For the most part it felt like the characters were the main focus of the book. However, with that said the issue of substance abuse and what it can do to you and the ripples it creates in other people's lives was a truly neat second layer.

I liked how the author took these character's addictions and lives and gave you a little scare here and there and also made you think about the heartache and pain addictions can cause.

Well don
What a great surprise - I really loved this book. Picked it on a whim from the Amazon borrowers library b/c of the title (go figure). A glimpse into the intertwined lives of a therapist, his addicts, and the animal control facility across the parking lot from his rehab center, I thought it was genuine, the characters were realistic, and I connected with the story. And of course, a dog or two always makes a book better! Look forward to reading more from Mark Matthews!
Lisa Sandberg
I liked this book, I felt it was very well written. I liked how the author switched to different character's POV, and how everyone seems connected on some level. I was very drawn to the characters and wanted to know the outcome of their lives, as I was pulled into their lives while reading.

I could also relate to several aspects in this book: I am an animal lover and have an adopted dog; I have had an alcohol problem, which has affected my health(for the rest of my life); I have two brothers tha
Kellie Brabec
I've been collecting books from the Amazon Kindle Freebie sites lately - and this was one that I picked up because it looked interesting. I am really glad that I did. The story was compelling and the characters were all people I could relate to in my life. I liked how the storyline tied together lost animals and lost souls - and the comparisons between the two.

I will definitely be looking for more Mark Matthews books!
Marcia Smith
This book was very well written and I couldn't put it down once I started reading it. I thought the story was a really good one, but it was hard to read at times because it was such a raw look inside drug addiction. I don't envy those that struggle with addiction Very difficult. But it gave me a new appreciation for those that struggle with this disease and it was a heartwarming story overall.
Barbara Tsipouras
Mark Matthews obviously knows what he is talking about and gives us some insight in substance abuse, social work at a detox center, the struggle to keep one's sanity and influence of the family allways keeping the balance between "quiet desparation" and hope for a better future. Despite some strange coincidences this story is very believable and realistic.
Engaging and well written. Anyone who has experience with addicts will recognize the daily struggles and demons that haunt them. The animal shelter euthanasia description got me due to its reality. I worked at a kill shelter many years ago and put many deserving animals to sleep before they found homes.
A decent story about an addiction counselor, addicts and an animal shelter. Would have been a good book club read because there is a lot to discuss about the main characters, their families and their actions. I would have given it 3 1/2 stars- 3 seems too little and 4 seems too much.
Susan Krich
Disturbing. Thought-provoking. How much is fiction and how much is reality? As I read it, the pace seemed to move quickly forward then ended suddenly. I wished it had continued a little longer. Is it possible a sequel is intended?
I really enjoyed it, could hardly put it down at the end! I have to also say, I went to high school and college with the author. He did a great job, can't wait to read his 2nd book!
Carson hall
I absolutely LOVE this book!
This has taken me a long time to read, I think it is the whole getting used to the kindle and not picking up another book. I don't think that I really got what I should of out of it. I am going to read it again after the holidays and once life in general calms down.

This book moved slowly and then there was a disturbing scene very near the end of the book. I'm sorry I spent the day reading it.
It had potential, but the connections he tried to make with characters either fell flat or just seemed stupid and forced.
Madeline Jane krane
Madeline Jane krane marked it as to-read
Apr 22, 2015
Chrissy Shillingburg
Chrissy Shillingburg marked it as to-read
Mar 19, 2015
Rachel Helwig
Rachel Helwig marked it as to-read
Mar 19, 2015
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Goodreads Librari...: New cover 4 32 Nov 28, 2013 09:36AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Book Cover For STRAY changes 9 23 Apr 02, 2013 10:48AM  
Creative Reviews: Giveaway 3 copies of "Stray" by Mark Matthews 1 8 Jun 17, 2012 11:54PM  
Free Kindle Ebooks: Free Kindle 3 Days Only 3 26 Jun 08, 2012 04:51PM  
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Mark Matthews has worked in addiction and mental health treatment for nearly 20 years, and writing for just as long.

His most recent novel, MILK-BLOOD, is a tale of urban horror based in Detroit and is now available on amazon. (

On the Lips of Children is his first true horror novel, and was published in June of 2013 from Books of the Dead press. It was nominated as a semi
More about Mark Matthews...
MILK-BLOOD: A Tale of Urban Horror On the Lips of Children The Damage Done The Jade Rabbit Zombie Dash

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