crime · Non-Fiction · Prison story

34 Years in Hell: My Time Inside America’s Toughest Prisons – Jamie Morgan Kane ★★★★

Blurb; In July 1983 James Morgan Kane returned home in the evening to find a corpse in his living room. Fearing that he would be blamed and sensing that his wife was somehow involved, he wanted to do all to protect his young family. Jamie worked through the night to dispose of the body all the while disbelieving the situation he found himself in. His luck ran out days later as he was arrested and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Jamie entered the U.S. prison system and was to stay there for 34 years with stints in San Quentin, Folsom State Prison and the notorious Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) in California. He would rub shoulders with some of the world’s most infamous serial killers such as Charles Manson, Edmund Kemper, Charles Tex Watson and Herbie Mullin as well as gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood and Mexican cartels. This book tells of his time: locked up with no hope of release, living the brutality of the unforgiving penitentiary system and finding his new purpose in life, as well as tales of his many run-ins with some of the world’s most dangerous inmates.

My Review; This is a non-fiction, real life story. It starts off more a biography of his life before the arrest and prison. He hasn’t had an easy childhood at all. Then we move on to the arrest and prison side to the story. If you’ve been following my blog a while you will know prison interests me so I love to read them and the stories within them. They’re intriguing to me.

Throughout reading this I really felt sorry for Jamie. What a brave, strong and determined man. He was moved between so many prisons in the 34 years and denied bail so many times, but he never gave up and I applaud him for that. He experienced many fights and battles along the way. It all paid off in the end. The ending we all wanted and needed. A story to tell. He hasnt let it effect his freedom now, instead after his release in 2018 he decided to share his story with us all.

I think America has a huge problem with their prison system that needs to be looked into further. An eye-opening, real read! Well deserverd four stars from me. Highly recommend. What a man. What a story.

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Emotional · Prison story · Young adult

Moonrise – Sarah Crossan ★★★★★

Blurb; Seventeen-year-old Joe hasn’t seen his brother in ten years. Ed didn’t walk out on the family, not exactly. It’s something more brutal.

Ed’s locked up — on death row.

Now his execution date has been set, and the clock is ticking. Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with his brother, no matter what other people think … and no matter whether Ed committed the crime. But did he? And does it matter, in the end?

This poignant, timely, heartbreaking novel asks big questions: What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?

My Review; This book didn’t just break my heart it tore it out and stomped all over it. Utterly heartbreaking. This one made me shed a tear. How cruel laws, lies and life can be. I would recommend this book to each and everyone of you. We can all take something away from reading this.

There are some big questions within this story which really make you think. Also the fact that what actually happened in this book still happens today around the world and how it doesn’t just affect one life, it creates a ripple and affects those around them. You really feel for each and every character in this story all experiencing the same thing but in different ways.

I don’t think I will ever be able to forget this story? It really is hard hitting and emotional. Highly recommend! A well deserved five stars and a place in my top twenty reads of the year.

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Non-Fiction · Prison story

*12 days of Clink Street* Veronica’s Bird – Veronica Bird & Richard Newman ★★★★★

Blurb; Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.

A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.

Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.

Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.

After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.

My Review; I absolutely loved this book! I have always been fascinated about prisons, so this book was perfect. A little different from what I usually read as this is a non fiction book, a true story. But it’s brilliant!

As a true story you really get to know Veronica up close and personal, through the good and bad! She is a woman I admire with an interesting life story to tell. I was well and truelly hooked, I wanted to know everything about what this woman experienced and had to tell me especially inside of the prisons she worked in.

Parts will have you laughing, parts will make you gasp. Veronica is one extraordinary woman. I loved the photos included in the middle of the book making it more personal and a look into the history of how prisons were run and criminals dealt with (a lot has changed since then).

Beautifull written and told. Highly recommend. A story that is going to stick with me for a long time. A well deserved five stars from me.

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