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Reviews

It is definitely a recommended read for all Christian.

Everyone yearns for a perfect life devoid of sorrows and failures, a life filled with grace and abundance but life, with its uncertainties rarely gives us all that or even how we envision life to be is denied us. For some people, life ends after a single disappointment. However, for God’s children, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, one only needs to respond to failures/disappointment as Christ will. John 16:33 captures this beautifully, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”.

“Always before Me” therefore is a short fast-paced book deep, rooted in biblical principles and catholic doctrines. It captures trials, disappointments, resilience and redemption. The author wrote a suggestive guide on how we could handle life uncertainties through prayer, confession, believing and relying on Christ etc. He tried to cover almost every aspect of life we might have questions and provided answers for them through one of the main characters sermons – “Turn back to Him with all your heart, and rely on His great mercy if you will only repent. Through the mass, the Rosary, the scapular, the way of the cross and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, He will save you.”

The book had three main characters; the saint, the sinner and the man. Each of them created and crafted to relate to us based on our moral conscience. Just like every human, these men had their flaws and encounter their own share of life’s tragedy but at the end lessons were learnt and they were all victorious.

Though the book is quite a short read, it is definitely a recommended read for all Christians especially Catholics and anyone who wants fast-paced moral based book.

*****
REVIEWED BY
Christ A Poet Team

 


 Loved it! 😍

Always Before Me is a recommended read for all Christians especially Catholics and anyone who wants a fast-paced moral based book.

Synopsis

Always Before Me, is a story about what to do if your failures are always before you and how to snatch victory and your dreams from unjust tragedy. It is the story of three men, a saint, a sinner and a man, like many men, trying to find his way despite his disappointments in life. It is a story about how each of these men finds his way back and finds redemption.
Each man endures many trials and much suffering that bring out the flaws and strengths in each of their characters. In the end, each of the men succeeds in his journey but only after facing much conflict and ultimately an elaborate intrigue involving a gang leader in the prison which leads to a shocking event that will affect these men and change their destiny forever.

Everyone yearns for a perfect life devoid of sorrows and failures, a life filled with grace and abundance but life, with its uncertainties rarely gives us all that or even how we envision life to be is denied us. For some people, life ends after a single disappointment. However, for God’s children, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, one only needs to respond to failures/disappointment as Christ will. John 16:33 captures this beautifully, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”.

“Always before Me” therefore is a short fast-paced book deep, rooted in biblical principles and catholic doctrines. It captures trials, disappointments, resilience and redemption. The author wrote a suggestive guide on how we could handle life uncertainties through prayer, confession, believing and relying on Christ etc. He tried to cover almost every aspect of life we might have questions and provided answers for them through one of the main characters sermons – “Turn back to Him with all your heart, and rely on His great mercy if you will only repent. Through the mass, the Rosary, the scapular, the way of the cross and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, He will save you.”

The book had three main characters; the saint, the sinner and the man. Each of them created and crafted to relate to us based on our moral conscience. Just like every human, these men had their flaws and encounter their own share of life’s tragedy but at the end lessons were learnt and they were all victorious.

Though the book is quite a short read, it is definitely a recommended read for all Christians especially Catholics and anyone who wants fast-paced moral based book.

****

Reviewed by

 


That Reviewer
Posts: 261
Joined: 12 Feb 2020, 07:50
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Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-that-reviewer.html

 

Official Review: Always Before Me by John Servant

Post by That Reviewer » 24 Apr 2020, 09:28

 

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Always Before Me” by John Servant.]

How far can you go to stand for what you believe? When push comes to shove, will you be able to stand with your values regardless of the cost? These are the kinds of questions that Always Before Me by John Servant raises.

It was the wake of Father Anthony, who died of lung cancer. Father Richard had come to pay his final respects to a holy man. Sitting there alone, he was reminiscing on the life of the priest whose remains lay in the casket before him. While the thoughts were going through his head, another priest, Father Paul, came to mind. Father Anthony and Father Paul both died in prison, albeit for different reasons.

While Father Richard was lost in thought, a young man walked into the small room where the wake was going on. The young man was John Daly, the late Father Anthony’s nephew. John came because he was informed of his uncle’s death, and the possessions his uncle left for him. The only thing John knew about his uncle was the accusation of molesting a young girl leveled against him. There was something about Father Anthony that John didn’t know. What could this be?

Always Before Me is one of the three Catholic novels written by John Servant. The book is deeply rooted in Catholicism and all the beliefs associated with it. Both the major and minor characters in this book have a connection to the Catholic Church. The practices, prayers, and setting all project Catholicism in its fullest expression. You have to have a Catholic foundation or an idea of their beliefs and practices to follow most parts of the story in this book. The author shows his deep roots and vast knowledge of the Catholic Church.

I applaud the author’s writing skills. I have read a couple of religious novels in recent times and have been utterly disappointed. For most of these books, it was more about projecting the religion than building on a story. I usually have difficulty understanding the plot. But, John showed me in this book that a religious novel could also appeal to everyone. He did well to cater to the reading needs of religious and non-religious readers alike. He showed the utmost respect when talking about people of a different faith. Most importantly, there was a story to follow and lessons to learn from the book.

What I liked most was the way the author infused different writing styles to make the book fun and engaging. He used flashbacks to narrate the backstory effectively. He seamlessly connected it to the beginning of the book. It made the book more interesting than it was at the beginning. The author also used suspense to keep me anticipating. I fell for the temptation of predicting specific outcomes only for the author to shatter them with the twists and turns. This book also elicited different emotions at different points for me. I was excited, sad, angry, surprised, and encouraged while reading this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

I only found one error in the book, but it wasn’t enough to take away any point. There was nothing I disliked about this book as it was well-written and professionally edited. I rate it four out of four stars. I recommend it specifically to anyone who enjoys religious novels. People who are opposed to religion can also read it as there wasn’t any prejudice in the narrative.

 

******

Always Before Me
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

source: https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=140922&sid=688ad94c052f6fe8c27f3e816f4047d6

Spiritual and Inspirational Catholic Novels and Blogs

Official Review: The Arrow That Flies By Day

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “The Arrow That Flies By Day” by John Servant.]

The Arrow That Flies by Day is a deep and inspiring story that cannot leave anyone who reads it unchanged. The challenges that John Thaddeus, the protagonist, faces are a multitude, but through his faith and the support he got from his loved ones, he somehow manages to overcome. This work of fiction by John Servant got me so absorbed and entangled to the story that I refused to put the book down. This could be because it covered a wide range of themes I was inclined to, which involved loyalty, love, persistence, determination, faith, and authenticity.

The story is set in Paterson, United States of America. John had been a trouble child when growing up. When his father passed away due to heart-attack, him and Joan, his mother, were left to fend for themselves, and it was not easy. The principal of John’s school, Sister Francis, stepped in to assist the family and later on, became like a parent to John when his mom died due to cancer. After graduating from high school, he served as a Marine, and learnt tough skills that shaped his tough character, and built up an unrelenting attitude of a fighter within him. Before he was discharged from the Marines in Afghanistan, he had incurred a gun wound in his lower abdomen that changed his whole life forever.

After leaving the Marines, he did not know what was next for him in life. He wanted to find a purpose for himself. He wanted to matter, and he wanted more in life that what he was getting. He prayed long to God asking for guidance and direction. His prayers eventually got answered, and he discovered he is supposed to be a kicker in football. Without any hesitations, he followed his calling with determination and became not just a highly esteemed NFL kicker, but also a good neighbor and friend to the many he met on his journey. He was also very humble and loving. When he was slapped on his left cheek, he turned the other cheek as well.

I loved everything about the book. The author made the book short, just 74 pages, yet profound and insightful. However, I must say that the book took a turn I was not expecting in the end. While enjoying reading about John’s consistent achievements, something terrible happened to him. Everything was going well in his life – he just won for his team, and was ready to tell Susan, his high school classmate, how he fell about her. I must say that Susan and I did not see the author’s surprise coming. We even cried over John. He was such a good, handsome, tough gentleman, and he did not deserve what he suffered.

Other than the surprise hit by the author, there was nothing I disliked about the book. I only noticed just one grammatical error, where the pronoun “she” was used instead of “he”. The flow of the book was smooth, and not deterred by any editorial errors such as misplaced punctuation marks. Due to this, reading the story not only made it easy for me to visualize effectively as though I was watching a movie, but it also made me felt like I was being featured in the movie itself because the story felt so real and tangible!

I enjoyed how the author described the football matches. He captured and emphasized every detail of John’s actions on the field, from the angle at which he kicked the ball, to the kilometers the ball reached, and even more. If ever the author’s writing career does not become successful later on for some reason, (though I doubt it might ever happen because he is a great writer) he would fit just fine as a football commentator! I even watched a few videos online to see what this American Football was all about, because it clearly was not the same as ours here in South Africa – based on the thorough description given by Servant. That was how fascinating and enthralling Servant got me into this sport.

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I picked up a lot of life lessons from this book, and everything in the is worth reading. I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to build up on their faith in God, because John was a believer, and he quoted the Bible verses every once in the while. However, a non-believer alike would benefit from reading the book since it does not just focus on religion entirely, but on the meaning of loving and caring for others, being motivated, and following your dreams through fire and storm. My favorite line from the book was John’s response when asked why he thought he could play pro ball. He answered, “Because no one ever told me I couldn’t.”

******
The Arrow That Flies By Day
View: on Bookshelves
For spiritual and inspirational Catholic novels and blogs, see https://www.johnservantbooks.com/


Official Review: The Narrow Gate

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “The Narrow Gate” by John Servant.]

As the story begins, John Kelly, once an award-winning newspaper reporter, is assigned to write an article on an ex-senator, Joe Jay. The newspaper’s editor has learned that Jay is hospitalized and likely dying. Since Senator Jay rose to fame quickly and was later forced into retirement, due to scandal, the editor suspects that a good story is lurking there. (This is not a spoiler, as the reader will learn this information in the first few pages of the novel).

When Kelly enters the senator’s hospital room, he sees an old man who appears to be near death. Next, he notices a nun, dressed in full habit, kneeling on the tile floor and praying her rosary. Writer’s intuition convinces Kelly that there is definitely an intriguing story here.

At this point, the story flashes back to Senator Joe Jay’s earlier life. Ambitious to a fault, Jay is lured into the seedy world of politics. He soon learns that each decision he makes carries an unforeseen, and often dangerous, consequence. As this captivating plot unfolds, both the senator and the nun (Sister Francis) will intersect one another’s lives on numerous occasions. However, it is what occurs between these encounters that will captivate the reader.

The Narrow Gate by John Servant captured my interest from the beginning and held it until the last page. Since this is a short read, I easily read it in one day. Servant does a masterful job of developing the main characters. Jay is the ambitious, arrogant and confident (yet often naïve) politician. Sister Francis is the steady, caring and nurturing nun. She is steadfast in her principles and will not be swayed into compromising them.

Servant keeps the tone of the book teetering between hope and despair. Since the characters are so relatable, readers will identify with both of these emotions, throughout the book. Also, the major themes of the book are greed (for money and power), atonement and service to God. The author is skilled in evoking the reader’s senses. At times, the reader may shudder at the arrogance of Jay, as he nonchalantly makes some of his life-altering decisions. Yet, at other times, the reader will sympathize with Jay’s fear, and utter despair, as the consequences hit him head on.

For all of the reasons noted above, I am pleased to award The Narrow Gate 4 out of 4 stars. I could find nothing to dislike about this novel. Additionally, the book appears to have been professionally edited. Readers may also be interested to learn that Servant was a lawyer. Having witnessed individuals overcome huge hurdles to achieve their dreams, he has also observed as they fell from grace. His experience and knowledge lend another layer of authenticity to this novel.

This intriguing story will appeal to those who have made mistakes in the past, even life-altering ones, and wondered if true forgiveness was possible. Those with an eye toward politics would certainly benefit from reading this novel. There are no explicit scenes or strong language to offend readers. However, there are a few hints of sexual liaisons, crime, and death that may not be suitable for young adults. I highly recommend this captivating novel and would love to see it adapted as a movie.

******
The Narrow Gate

View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

For spiritual and inspirational Catholic novels and blogs, see https://www.johnservantbooks.com/


by kandscreeley » 25 Apr 2019, 08:57

Interesting. I am curious about what Joe Jay’s secret is and how he finds forgiveness. This sounds like a fabulously well-written novel. As long as there is nothing explicit, the hints of various liaisons, etc. don’t bother me. I might have to try this one. Thanks for the great review.

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Latest Review: Vigilatus by Brenda Heller and Jimmy Adams

For spiritual and inspirational Catholic novels and blogs, see https://www.johnservantbooks.com/


by Bianka Walter » 25 Apr 2019, 10:09

Ooooh, this one sounds right up my ally. Joe Jay sounds like a super interesting character – all the better!
Very cool premise, and on my to-read list.
Thank you for the great review. :)
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.
– Dr. Seuss
Latest Review: Every Ghost Has Its Story by Lynda Marie Austin

For spiritual and inspirational Catholic novels and blogs, see https://www.johnservantbooks.com/


Amazon Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars

Trust in the Divine Mercy of God will insure our Eternal Salvation

May 31, 2019

Format: Kindle Edition

Courage, determination, faith, hope, trust, final perseverance, and the mercy contained in the Divine Plan of God, are but a few superlatives that one can use to describe the masterful message of JohnServant’s “ The Arrow that Flies by Day”. The author has written a short novel describing a modern day hero cast in the shadow of St. Augustine. Like this great Doctor of the Catholic Church, John, the main character of this inspiring story, is revealed as a soul with a checkered past who, through determination, courage, and rekindled faith, is able to overcome many obstacles in life, stemming from a deprived childhood and the injuries sustained from the ravages of war. He strives and accomplishes impossible feats of greatness, heroism,and charity witnessed by many, in life, on the athletic field, and in the spiritual realm.

The inspiration for greatness was born from the love and caring of a consecrated soul in the personage of one Sister Francis, who stepped in as a living guardian angel when all family had been taken from him.

One of the most penetrating themes that “Arrow “ presents is the frailty of our human earthly existence, reminding the reader that one can be on top of the world, achieve impossible dreams of heroism, bask in the moments of greatness, and then in the breath of a moment, lose it all by circumstance of the unpredictable end of earthly life.

The message of living with an ongoing communication with God is the paramount theme of this novel. This is demonstrated by our heroes commitment to the unquestioned and continuous charity in the love shown to others, even at the cost of his own life.

His dedication to Our Blessed Mother is witnessed to all observers by his ongoing recitation of the Holy Rosary. As a visible practice of faith to all onlookers, he kept his beads in hand in every visible situation and performed many and countless acts of heroism fueled from his military training as a Marine.

The characters within this text may be fictitious, the names may be derived from the imagination of the author, but the message is real. Without God in our constant mindset we have nothing. He reaffirms that no human achievement can truly satisfy the heart, make us feel secure as a total love of God. And who is it that shows us the way of perfection in the Eyes of God is none other than the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through her Holy Rosary and the contemplation of its mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ and Our Lady, faithful and penitent souls can attain a living relationship with Heaven while still here on earth. By traversing life with one foot on earth and the other in Heaven, the faithful soul is elevated to a new reality of supernatural bliss that few attempt to achieve. This is the gem of faith found in the inner self of John that all should strive to emulate. The loss of life or that time of our passing, that we all fear, becomes of secondary concern, when the wise and holy soul realizes that the departure of the soul from the body is coming ever closer with each day, with each breath, as we countdown the span of our first and earthly life.
There is an implied message which all of us need to digest that our lives are to be continued for all of eternity in our glorified bodies, when the soul and the body are reunited at the time of the Second Coming of Our Lord, Jesus Christ and the Final Judgement.

“Arrow “, in novel form, is a catechetical reminder to the conscience of where our true attentions and futures should be directed. And that is to the attainment of happiness and peace that only the Lord can satisfy in our eternal destines., hopefully in Heaven with God, and not in that other place occupied by the selfish and self seeking.

I love the theme of the main character, an underdog by many circumstances, finding a human guardian angel, if you will, in the figure of a Sister Francis, who mentors him is what really matters in life, being one with the spirit of Jesus Christ, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her Rosary coupled with the Brown Scapular. These are the messages of Our Lady of Fatima that Catholics and all need to focus upon. Through the narrative of a struggling football career and the achievements of what was considered impossible, the injured soul comes closer to finding earthly happiness and spousal love, only to have all of his expectations snatched away by a single human act of violence.We are assured that his redemption appears to be secured by his Marian devotion, by his martyrdom, evidenced by his earthly acts of charity that were continuously pleasing to God, specifically by his heroism in the sacrifice of his life to accommodate another, much like Our Lord, Jesus Christ, freely laid down His life for all of humanity to secure our eternal wellbeing.

The novel ends with the message of hope for eternal happiness for all those who remain in the shadow of Gods love and the example given by practicing the faith and trusting in the Divine Mercy of God, in the face of any human tragedy, characterize by the message of Our Lord, given to St. Faustina, “Jesus, I Trust in You”.

Lloyd Gerard Greenberg


Review of “The Narrow Gate” by John Servant

Much of the culture in which we live has fallen into a cataclysm of deceit and betrayal for the common good of others motivated by greed, lust, the procurement of power, wealth and public recognition. We see this witnessed by the scandalous behaviors of many public officials when opportunities of illicit advancement present themselves. Evil desires and selfish enterprise are the devices of maliciousness found among those striving to attaint the highest levels of financial success, through the procurement of power, fame and notoriety, has motivated many to abandon moral ethics as they proceed to conquer the world in order to procure many of its riches and enticements. Many are willing to shed the gifts of the Godly virtues of the Holy Spirit to conquer ungodly goals. This entails a willingness to distance themselves from any relationship with God and place in jeopardy their eternal futures. Such is the case in the onset of John Servants,”The Narrow Gate”.

The setting of this saga begins with a third party, a journalist, being assigned a literary project to uncover the real truths trailing the life of a corrupt politician, a US Senator, a man of notorious repute who somehow turns his life around to become a humanitarian with saintly qualities in later life. The challenge is to uncover the facts. What were the real truths? Was this guy a sinner or a saint or hoax?

The main story’s theme evolves into an instructional study of evil verses good, one of truthfulness and honesty with one’s conscience, namely, does the end ever justify the means? Specifically, does one who sells one’s soul to the devil ever make good on the motives of reconciling to do good that can come out of evil, justifications and the promises to turn evil into good when the struggle to achieve greatness has been accomplished. Can one of good moral upbringing ever completely turn ones back to God before their entire world collapses.

Let’s for a moment reflect on two of the greatest snares of the devil. The first is the promise of time. He convinces the inner soul that no matter what one has to do to get head, they will have time in the future to make things right with God, to achieve a greater good, and perhaps come clean with the Mercy of God sometime, later on. This is the justification that our main character, Senator Joe Jay keeps hidden in the back of his mind. Later on, these noble intents however seem to fade away as he languishes in the comfort of his own achievements.

The second snare, and most subtle is to convince man that he, the devil does not exist; this removes the sin in sin, or sin no longer exists. There is no consequence for sin and the thoughts of conditions for final damnation are never ever entered into. Therefore, one can easily lose one’s moral compass and live in moral darkness, separated from God. This again is a symptom of the character of ill-gotten success. What at first seemed immoral was real nothing less than the stretching of truths, besides everyone was doing it or getting away with doing it, right?

Such was the case with Senator Joe Jay in The Narrow Gate. His appetite for power, wealth, position, and greed left the moral teachings of his childhood and adolescent years under the tutelage age of Sister Francis is the rubble of his past, as he took no prisoners in his ascension up the ladder of world power and fame. Every immoral action was either OK or understood as culturally acceptable. With the aid of corrupt politicians, mob connections, the death of acquaintances and his son, in which he had sensed some culpability, peppered with some very seedy dealings, the main character leaves a trail of victims as he accumulates more and more power, only leading to one misstep that would knock him off his pedestal of grandeur and cause him to hit the skids of total ruin.

Down and out, abandoned by his wife for his unfaithfulness, and the memories of his sons suicide, owing to our characters antics of family separation and fragmentation, all seems lost, except for the intervention of our wonderful Sister Francis who is able to upright the sinking ship of the former Senators life.

Sister Francis turns the shipwreck of Joe’s public life into one of total separation from the secular world that he had believed was so significant and which was so desired by him, into one of earthly citizenship of Heaven. Through Sister Francis’s recommendation of the Holy Rosary, the devotion of the Divine Mercy, a rekindled dependence on the Mother of God and Jesus Christ, Joe’s life is turned around. Sister starts this transition of the heart by encouraging Joe to perform acts of charity, to help others in need, which develops into a selfless emptying of all of his former evil designs. Joe slowly desires to imitate Christ by his actions and deeds of charity and mercy. This former dark soul is transformed into one of saintly stature.

The example given by the new selflessness of Joe and the prayers of the good sister offered at his death bed, inspires the investigative journalist to question his own former life, having witnessed the transforming influence of Sister Francis and the conversion of Senator Joe.

The messages of Divine Mercy given to St. Faustina by Jesus, the devotion to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary and the Brown Scapular to regain our friendship with God, and God’s longing and desire to forgive are the overpowering themes contained in this story of redemption. Nobody, no matter what they have done or what they think is unforgivable, is beyond the scope of God’s forgiveness. God, like the father of the Prodigal Son in scripture, is ever watching for our return and eager to forgive the penitent soul. There is but one condition; we have to ask for it.

The fitting title of “The Narrow Gate” reminds the reader that the highway to Hell is grand or paved by good intentions, but the path to Heaven is narrow and at the end of this narrow path is that Narrow Gate that only those who Love God and Neighbor will be allowed to unlock its Heavenly Treasures.

Lloyd Gerard Greenberg, author of “If It All Ends Today.

FOR INSPIRATIONAL CHRISTIAN NOVELS AND BLOGS OF HOPE AND MERCY SEE,www.johnservantbooks.com/.


DAtkins

5.0 out of 5 starsThis captivating story would make an excellent movie!

May 15, 2019

Format: Kindle Edition

This book captured my interest from the first page and held me spellbound until the end. In fact, I read it in one day! Servant did a masterful job of developing the characters, especially Joe and Sister Francis. The tone of the book teeters between hope and despair, and readers will identify with both of these emotions throughout the book. Major themes of this book include greed ( for power and money), atonement and service to God. Also, the author excels in evoking the readers’ senses. You may shudder as you read of Joe’s arrogance, as he nonchalantly makes his life-altering decisions. At other times, you will sympathize with his fear and utter despair as he is forced to accept the consequences of these decisions. Additionally, the author’s experience as a lawyer lends another layer of authenticity to this novel. This story will appeal to readers who have made mistakes in their pasts (even life-altering ones) and questioned if true forgiveness is possible. Anyone with an eye toward politics would certainly benefit from this read. The absence of strong language and explicit sex scenes will also broaden the audience for this book. I highly recommend this exceptional novel!


Bluebird03

4 out of 4 stars

As the story begins, John Kelly, once an award-winning newspaper reporter, is assigned to write an article on an ex-senator, Joe Jay. The newspaper’s editor has learned that Jay is hospitalized and likely dying. Since Senator Jay rose to fame quickly and was later forced into retirement, due to scandal, the editor suspects that a good story is lurking there. (This is not a spoiler, as the reader will learn this information in the first few pages of the novel).

When Kelly enters the senator’s hospital room, he sees an old man who appears to be near death. Next, he notices a nun, dressed in full habit, kneeling on the tile floor and praying her rosary. Writer’s intuition convinces Kelly that there is definitely an intriguing story here.

At this point, the story flashes back to Senator Joe Jay’s earlier life. Ambitious to a fault, Jay is lured into the seedy world of politics. He soon learns that each decision he makes carries an unforeseen, and often dangerous, consequence. As this captivating plot unfolds, both the senator and the nun (Sister Francis) will intersect one another’s lives on numerous occasions. However, it is what occurs between these encounters that will captivate the reader.

The Narrow Gate by John Servant captured my interest from the beginning and held it until the last page. Since this is a short read, I easily read it in one day. Servant does a masterful job of developing the main characters. Jay is the ambitious, arrogant and confident (yet often naïve) politician. Sister Francis is the steady, caring and nurturing nun. She is steadfast in her principles and will not be swayed into compromising them.

Servant keeps the tone of the book teetering between hope and despair. Since the characters are so relatable, readers will identify with both of these emotions, throughout the book. Also, the major themes of the book are greed (for money and power), atonement and service to God. The author is skilled in evoking the reader’s senses. At times, the reader may shudder at the arrogance of Jay, as he nonchalantly makes some of his life-altering decisions. Yet, at other times, the reader will sympathize with Jay’s fear, and utter despair, as the consequences hit him head on.

For all of the reasons noted above, I am pleased to award The Narrow Gate 4 out of 4 stars. I could find nothing to dislike about this novel. Additionally, the book appears to have been professionally edited. Readers may also be interested to learn that Servant was a lawyer. Having witnessed individuals overcome huge hurdles to achieve their dreams, he has also observed as they fell from grace. His experience and knowledge lend another layer of authenticity to this novel.

This intriguing story will appeal to those who have made mistakes in the past, even life-altering ones, and wondered if true forgiveness was possible. Those with an eye toward politics would certainly benefit from reading this novel. There are no explicit scenes or strong language to offend readers. However, there are a few hints of sexual liaisons, crime, and death that may not be suitable for young adults. I highly recommend this captivating novel and would love to see it adapted as a movie.

******
The Narrow Gate 


mtsnel006

4 out of 4 stars

The Arrow That Flies by Day is a deep and inspiring story that cannot leave anyone who reads it unchanged. The challenges that John Thaddeus, the protagonist, faces are a multitude, but through his faith and the support he got from his loved ones, he somehow manages to overcome. This work of fiction by John Servant got me so absorbed and entangled to the story that I refused to put the book down. This could be because it covered a wide range of themes I was inclined to, which involved loyalty, love, persistence, determination, faith, and authenticity.

The story is set in Paterson, United States of America. John had been a trouble child when growing up. When his father passed away due to heart-attack, him and Joan, his mother, were left to mend for themselves, and it was not easy. The principal of John’s school, Sister Francis, stepped in to assist the family and later on, became like a parent to John when his mom died to cancer. After graduating from high school, he served as a Marine, and learnt tough skills that shaped his tough character, and built up an unrelenting attitude of a fighter within him. Before he was deployed from the Marines in Afghanistan, he had incurred a gun wound in his lower abdomen that changed his whole life forever.

After leaving the Marines, he did not know what was next for him in life. He wanted to find a purpose for himself. He wanted to matter, and he wanted more in life that what he was getting. He prayed long to God asking for guidance and direction. His prayers eventually got answered, and he discovered he is supposed to be a kicker in football. Without any hesitations, he followed his calling with determination and became not just a highly esteemed NFL kicker, but also a good neighbor and friend to the many he met on his journey. He was also very humble and loving. When he was slapped on his left cheek, he turned the other cheek as well.

I loved everything about the book. The author made the book short, just 74 pages, yet profound and insightful. However, I must say that the book took a turn I was not expecting in the end. While enjoying reading about John’s consistent achievements, something terrible happened to him. Everything was going well in his life – he just won for his team, and was ready to tell Susan, his high school classmate, how he felt about her. I must say that Susan and I did not see the author’s surprise coming. We even cried over John. He was such a good, handsome, tough gentleman, and he did not deserve what he suffered.

Other than the surprise hit by the author, there was nothing I disliked about the book. I only noticed just one grammatical error, where the pronoun “she” was used instead of “he”. The flow of the book was smooth, and not deterred by any editorial errors such as misplaced punctuation marks. Due to this, reading the story not only made it easy for me to visualize effectively as though I was watching a movie, but it also made me felt like I was being featured in the movie itself because the story felt so real and tangible!

I enjoyed how the author described the football matches. He captured and emphasized every details of John’s actions on the field, from the angle at which he kicked the ball at, to the kilometers the ball reached, and even more. If ever the author’s writing career does not become successful later on for some reason, (though I doubt it might ever happen because he is a great writer) he would fit just fine as a football commentator! I even watched a few videos online to see what this American Football was all about, because it clearly was not the same as ours here in South Africa – based on the thorough description given by Servant. That was how fascinating and enthralling Servant got me into this sport.

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I picked up a lot of life lessons from this book, and everything in the is worth reading. I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to build up on their faith in God, because John was a believer, and he quoted the Bible verses every once in the while. However, a non-believer alike would benefit from reading the book since it does not just focus on religion entirely, but on the meaning of loving and caring for others, being motivated, and following your dreams through fire and storm. My favorite line from the book was John’s response when asked why he thought he could play pro ball. He answered, “Because no one ever told me I couldn’t.”


kandscreeley

It seems like John had a lot to overcome in his life. Still, I’m not sure this is a book for me. It’s not catching my attention the way I would like. I appreciate your review.

John Servant Book Collection

John Servant Book Collection