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Publisher's Summary

"A gritty, raw, and engrossing voice." (Publishers Weekly)

I was a bad mother, a bad daughter, a bad wife, a bad friend. Boozed out and tired, with no dreams and no future. But I was a good officer.

Sara Lunsford helped cage the worst of the worst, from serial killers to sex criminals. At the end of every day, when she walked out the prison gate, she had to try to shed the horrors she witnessed. But the darkness invaded every part of her life, no matter how much she tried to immerse herself in a liquor bottle. She couldn't hide from the things that hurt her, the things that made her bleed, and the things that still rise up in the dark and choke her.

With a magnetic, raw voice that you won't soon forget, Sweet Hell on Fire grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. It's a hardscrabble climb from rock bottom to the new ground of a woman who understands the meaning of sacrifice, the joy of redemption, and the quiet haven to be found in hope.

©2012 Sara Lunsford (P)2019 Sara Lunsford

What listeners say about Sweet Hell on Fire

Average Customer Ratings
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Thought Provoking, Gut-wrenching, & Heart Warming

I was curious about this book for 2 reasons. 1. The author is a fellow writer in my professional circle. 2. I wanted to learn about modern prison culture from the safety of reading a firsthand account. I am glad to have listened to this book. It shows that even with all the ugliness in the world and in ourselves, life can still be worth living if we choose to make it so. Definitely recommended for those who are seeking hope and light in the darkness. Well done, Sara!

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The lady protest too much!

When I first read the summary I was very excited to read this book. Who don’t want to hear about a woman’s train wreck of a life and then see her bounce back. Well for one thing everything she describes that happens in prison is the same thing you see on prison shows on TLC and investigation discovery. I could’ve written this book and I have never worked in a prison before. Also, I find her verbal altercations with others sound like comebacks you would only think of after you bought the way. She blames her drinking on working at the prison and then claims when you work at prison you were taught to keep everything inside blah blah blah. I know a very elderly man who worked at a prison for 47 years and he is very jovial outgoing and happy. He was my grandfather and he was very tender and very loving. Him and my uncles all worked at federal presence and I didn’t find them to be anything like she claimed they were or were supposed to be. Yes it is hard working at a prison, but it is still a choice and only certain types of people can do it and she has my respect for doing it. I just don’t think she should blame The prison on her being an alcoholic, a part-time mom or any other problems she seems to have. She didn’t strike me as a nice person because when her mom asked her to stay while she ride in pain she said not only did she not want to stay she wasn’t going to. What if her mom had felt that way when she was little then she would’ve been a Bandan just like her daughters were. She said she got her kids every weekend and then the very next sentence said she went out every Friday night so that meant her kids showed up to see her and then she left to go out. I just didn’t like her maybe it is unfair or write this review the narrator did a wonderful job I thought she was wonderful it’s the words she had to say that following the sentences that told a story that I didn’t like.

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Dark, raw, intriguing with a silver lining

This book is raw, unapologetic, and gripping. It touches on darkness we all feel in some way or another (although perhaps not as extreme) and offers a beautiful silver lining. The lead character is unexpected...funny...dark...a tornado of hope and despair. The characters are truthful and complex. The insight into the prison system is spellbinding. Brace yourself for a visceral, detailed, and captivating story.

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Couldn't Stop Listening!

I received this audiobook free at my request and am leaving this review voluntarily.

What can I say but Wow! Sara Lunsford's memoir is so real and so raw, I found myself hanging on every word. Susan Marlowe did a fantastic job with the narration, adding to the emotion found in the pages. Lunsford found herself changed after all that happened. You just might find yourself changed too after listening!

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Magnetic and Unforgettable

Memoirs are not my usual cup of tea, but I never know what's going to appeal until I find it. This one caught my attention and kept it until well after the end.

Lunsford's memoir was filled with brutal honesty, integrity, and hope. From the ugly realities of her job as a correctional officer to the wrecking ball of choices she made in her personal life during that time, Sweet Hell on Fire, owned it all. No excuses. No sugar coating. No justifying. Just the enlightenment of eventual understanding in the chaos around her, knowing when it was best for her to fight and when not to, the desire to let her story help others, and the inspiring will to change and overcome one bog after another.

As intrigued as I was with this time in Lunsford's life, it was not the only thing that kept the pages turning for me. Narrator, Susan Marlowe, complimented Lunsford's words very well. Marlowe kept an even, consistent pace throughout and transitions were easy to follow. In my opinion, I thought they both did an amazing job of bringing this memoir to life and making it so very memorable.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I think it is important to note that it may not appeal to some due to its strong language and bloody violence at times.

Lastly, I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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🎇 A Real Page Turner 😎

Well done Sara Lunsford. I listened to this brilliant piece of work in one sitting. I found it to be both gripping while still remaining true to life. There is one defining moment in the book that I didn’t hear coming, an i’m glad that Sara found a way to share it with us. Also the ending is true gold. I love memoirs that are based in, or set around life in prison, so this one will definitely be added to the Collection. As we are all aware, the choice of narrator can be the best or worst thing that can happen to an audiobook. The moment I heard the audio sample, I was hooked, an had to give it a raz. I’m so glad I did. Susan Marlowe’s Narration was not over the top or fancy, but she managed to give a natual life feal to the book, an was a great choice for the gig. To Sara Lunsford, Susan Marlowe, an everyone who made it possible to release this memoir as a audiobook I congratulate you all. 🎇😎👍

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  • Jade P
  • 10-24-20

A different style of book

I loved it, it gave a real insight as to the job itself and how it affected daily life too.

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  • Jacky
  • 07-13-20

Brilliant well written and poignant book

Well written and narrated book, so heartfelt, and emotional it must have been hard to write bringing your life onro paper absolutely brilliant

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  • Deedra
  • 01-10-20

Sweet Hell on Fire

This is an excellent book.I knew reading it would bring on memories of things in my life that I did not understand.The child of a police officer who drank and beat his kids and wives,I wanted some insight as to why.She mentions others doing these things. Ms Lunsford was a tough woman with tough choices.We could have been siblings the way she describes her mother! She is an unwed mother at 19( check!) Gets a job at a prison in a prison town (kind of check) but she turned to booze and sex ,we differ here.She watches horrible things go down at her job.She loses her husband ,but he is always there to pick her up,she hangs at bars,she fights and she finally gets clean.It is a heartwrenching story,full of little joys and learning moments. Susan Marlowe was a wonderful narrator.She put a lot into this book! I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • Linda
  • 12-03-19

A journey into the unimaginable

The authors portrayal of working in a State prison is absorbing was absorbing and gritty and very frank. I can only admire such a strong woman.

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  • Helen
  • 08-09-19

amazing book

I was a bad mother, a bad daughter, a bad wife, a bad friend. Boozed out and tired, with no dreams and no future. But I was a good officer.
helped cage the worst of the worst, from serial killers to sex criminals. amazing book