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Ælfred Rex Bible Story Book–outstanding Bible curriculum

Ælfred Rex Bible Story Book

by Nelda Hoyt Banek

Ælfred Rex Bible Story BookThe chronological scope of the Bible is huge, spanning approximately 4,228 years.  Have you ever wished for a collection of Bible stories that covers that length of time completely and deals with the complexities of the Bible in an understandable way? Obviously a labor of love, the Ælfred Rex Bible Story Book by Nelda Hoyt Banek is just such a book. At 649 pages, it is a large volume containing 312 stories and over 270 incredibly detailed engravings from 19th century folios. Until you actually examine the format, it can seem overwhelming, but it has an exceptional structure which can be used by individuals, in family units, or by schools as a complete curriculum. Parents who homeschool could use this for the Biblical portion of their curriculum. If the book is used cyclically as children mature, students will glean new knowledge each time they are exposed to the stories and discuss the truths found therein. 

The introduction provides tips for sharing the stories with preschoolers in a family setting. A special mark divides longer stories into two more manageable pieces. Families can expect to read through the book in two years. Classrooms could cover the material in three years of 36 weeks per school year. In both instances, the pace would be one section every day for four days a week.

I have been personally studying the story of Joseph’s life, so I chose to closely examine those passages in the Ælfred Rex Bible Story Book. The dysfunctional family story and the first mention of Joseph are found in story #21, but the first story that focuses on Joseph is #25, “Joseph Sold into Egypt,” based on Genesis 37. The Scriptural reference for each story is noted at the beginning of the account. A handy, but not intrusive, pronunciation guide is included at the bottom of pages for each story. There are eight stories dealing with Joseph. They are all well-written and true to the Scriptures from which they are drawn in Genesis.

Because the storybook is arranged chronologically, the next story concerns Job and is taken, of course, from the book of Job, but also from Ezekiel and James in an effort to place this account in the larger context of the whole Bible. The next story returns to Exodus with the tale of Moses’ birth.

Aelfred WorkbooksIn order to create a full curriculum for Christian schools or Sunday Schools, Nelda Banek has also created a series of workbooks for student use. The workbooks for grades K5-3 are called Bible Story Lessons. Scripture Studies are intended for 4th grade through adult learners. Upon examination of the workbooks, you can see that the curriculum is, indeed, rich and the lessons could be repeated in a two or three year cycle. There are six workbooks for each age range.

I am pleased that the student workbooks include both the story and the followup questions for discussion that comprise the large hardback storybook. That inclusion adds a lot of flexibility and support to teacher and learner. The activities in the appropriately named Scripture Studies are, as they should be, more advanced and complex than those found in Bible Story Lessons. I do think the teacher of younger students within both age ranges for each workbook would need to provide some support in completing the activities while the older students in each age range would be able to work more independently depending on their reading levels and experiences with Bible study. 

My survey of Bible Story Lessons (Book A: Creation to Sinai and Job) revealed a variety of interesting activities. As an example, the workbook activities for the Joseph stories are a dot to dot, word search, matching descriptions with pictures, hidden words, fill in the blanks, secret letter puzzle, and color by description. All would serve to reinforce the information provided by the stories.

Looking at Scripture Studies (Book E: Nativity to Zacchaeus), I surveyed the activities for the first six lessons which cover Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. Activities for these older students send the learner to the Bible to explore the original text for a variety of interesting fill in the blank activities. These activities help the student to delve more deeply into the Scriptures as the source of information and to understand the theological implications of the stories. The illustrations found in the hardback book are also included in the workbooks and sometimes are a part of the activities.

The end of Ælfred Rex Bible Story Book includes notes, a chart of the kings and prophets, index of proper names, timeline of Biblical history, illustration of the Tabernacle, the marching order of the tribes and depiction of their camping locations, four maps, and a list of resources. All of these are helpful aids for students of God’s word. According to the author in  describing the curriculum: “Teacher’s guides are available for each book in these series, containing instructions for pacing the curriculum, the reprinted stories, an answer key to the student worksheets, discussion and short-answer review questions, review game ideas, and memory work suggestions.”

I taught in a Christian school for two years before I entered the public school arena. I would have loved to use this curriculum with my students. Having taught grades K-adult in my thirty-four years as an educator, I can attest that this is a well thought out curriculum by an author who is both a Biblical scholar and professional educator. More importantly, as I peruse its pages, I can tell that it was prayerfully constructed to provide teachers and parents with a tool that lays out the whole story of mankind in a Biblical perspective from the creation and fall of humanity to redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I highly recommend the Ælfred Rex Bible Story Book for anyone wishing to read an easily understandable overview of the Bible through engaging stories or to teach Biblical truths to others in the same way. The workbooks are an excellent addition to help students focus on the facts of the stories and dig deeper into the Scriptures.

I would like to extend my thanks to the author, Nelda Hoyt Banek, for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Nonfiction, Christian, Religion, Theology

Notes: 1. For best pricing, I suggest you contact the publisher at www.aelfredrex.com.

  2. Suggested ages:

Ælfred Rex Bible Story Book—all ages

Bible Story Lesson (workbook)—Ages 5-9

Scripture Studies (workbook)—Ages 9-13

Publication:   September 1, 2014—Ælfred Rex Publications

Sample Quotes Taken from Joseph’s Story:

As they ate, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelite and Midianite traders coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing spices, balm, and myrrh to sell in Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, “What do we get out of killing our brother secretly? Let us sell him to the Ishmaelites. He is our brother and our own flesh. Let us not hurt him ourselves.”

Then Potiphar was angry, and he put Joseph in the king’s prison. But the Lord was with Joseph there, too, and caused the keeper of the prison to look on him with favor. The prison keeper gave Joseph charge of all the other prisoners. He did not have to check up on anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him. Whatever Joseph did, the Lord made it prosper.

Enchanted by the Rodeo Queen–in search of the right cowboy

Enchanted by the Rodeo Queen

by Melinda Curtis

Enchanted by the Rodeo QueenEmma Clark was a rodeo queen, but now she is thirty and no closer to fulfilling her dream of being married to a cowboy, working her own ranch, and wrangling some little cowpokes. Along come citified Jonah Monroe, a screen writing struggling with his own career moves, and Bo Monroe, a hunky Texan. Those two Monroe cousins have competed for a girl’s affections before and seem destined to try the same again with Emma.

Emma is a likable character as are the other characters in the story, including Emma’s three nephews, especially Adam, a five year old full of spunk and charm. Granny Gertie provides quiet wisdom, and sister-in-law Franny is supportive and understanding. Bo and Jonah are caught up in personal and family struggles, but are interesting characters. They are trying to help save the little dying town of Second Chance that the large set of Monroe cousins inherited from their beloved, but hard-nosed, grandfather. I enjoyed Jonah’s efforts to recreate the story of outlaw Merciless Mike Moody, Emma’s tutoring of contestant Tina in rodeo drills, and Emma’s struggle with her checklist of husband qualifications.

Whether this summer finds you relaxing on the beach, enjoying the view from a mountaintop, curling up in a comfy chair under an air conditioner, or riding horses on a rugged trail, take along a copy of Enchanted by the Rodeo Queen by Melinda Curtis. Better yet, indulge in the whole series; they are fun, clean and heartwarming from beginning to end.

I would like to extend my thanks to Melinda Curtis for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance

Notes: #5 in The Mountain Monroes, but can be read as a standalone. All deal with various Monroe cousins and their efforts to decide the future of the little town of Second Chance, but each book focuses on a different cousin.

Publication:   April 1, 2020—Harlequin Heartwarming

Memorable Lines:

“The Greek yogurt selection has much more variety and is healthier.” Half turning but still walking, Emily gave him the stink-eye. “When a woman wants ice cream, it has nothing to do with being healthy.”

Emily thought Arabians were a beautiful, smart breed. Didn’t mean she had to have one. She could appreciate Jonah’s wit and pretty eyes without trying to make him into her dream man.

The owl took flight, sweeping across the yard on a breeze laden with shared confidences.

There was nothing like the bustle of a rodeo to distract a woman from her broken heart. Emily relied on her decades-old rodeo queen training. She kept a smile on her face and had a kind word for all her old friends. 

A Springtime to Remember–gardens of Versailles

A Springtime to Remember

by Lucy Coleman

A Springtime to RememberThere are times, like today, when I wonder why I would pick a romance off the virtual bookshelves. Then I read a book like A Springtime to Remember by Lucy Coleman and understanding strikes again. I am hit by a combination of the beauty of Versailles, the ostentatious audacity of the aristocracy of days gone by, a passion for history, the mystery of family relationships, and ultimately the gentle magnetism of two hearts drawn into one.

Lexie, a TV presenter, wants more professionally; it is not enough to be the pretty face in front of the camera. She also has to prove her value to her successful brother, Jake, who very publicly fired her. Lexie is combining forces with cameraman Elliot Nielson to produce and financially back their own mini-series of documentaries. Their first project takes them to France to focus on the Palace of Versailles. Their futures are ironically fixed in the past: Lexie has an added interest in Versailles as her grandmother, an avid gardener, spent a year working in the Versailles gardens immediately prior to her marriage. Mysteriously, she never discussed that year with her family.

Indulge in this clean romance with its appreciation for natural beauty and historical context. You will be treating yourself to lots of smiles and a few tears in the midst of a well-told tale.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Boldwood Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Publication:   December 26, 2019—Boldwood Books

Memorable Lines:

“Versailles holds so many secrets. The more you uncover, the more you realise the surface has only just been scratched, even after all the years of intense scrutiny.”

I nod my head in agreement, thinking that every family has their problems, they’re just all very different. It’s how you resolve them that counts…

“I’ve learnt that the nature of life is that everyone’s journey is different and, therefore, no one should ever stand in judgement of another. Not least because they have not travelled that same road. Instead, it’s wise to feel grateful if one’s own road is less arduous, or one is simply better equipped to deal with the harsher realities of life.”

Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World

by Max Lucado

anxious for nothingWritten and published three years before the Corona Virus pandemic, Anxious for Nothing reads like it was penned for these desperate times. Author Max Lucado, by his own admission, is not perfect; he has experienced many of the same problems you have. You will enjoy his writing style which is simultaneously down to earth and exquisite in his turn of phrase. This book is filled with Scriptures that will encourage you during life’s difficult times. In it you will find examples from Lucado’s life and encounters with others in the form of anecdotes that illustrate Biblical principles. There are many references to the wisdom and guidance found in  the book of Philippians in the New Testament, but Max’s wording makes them easy to remember. He shares them as practical steps that will lead to a life with more calm and less chaos.

If I had to choose one book I would encourage everyone to read this year, it would be Anxious for Nothing. I usually include in my blog posts three memorable lines from the books I review. Never have I had a harder time including only three. Having heard Lucado’s online video study of this book, I can mentally hear him patiently, enthusiastically, and with understanding encouraging his readers. I can see the twinkle in his eyes as he shares one of his “secrets”: “God’s anxiety therapy includes a large, delightful dollop of gratitude.” I am grateful for the opportunity to share this book with you. 

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christian, Nonfiction, Self-Help

Notes: Included at the end of the book are “Questions for Reflection” which could be used for individual or group study. There is also a useful guide that includes, by chapter, the Scriptures that are referenced by Lucado in the text. It would be very handy to use it to bring to mind God’s promises and truths as you are working through your personal times of chaos and daily struggles.

Publication:   September 12, 2017—Thomas Nelson

Memorable Lines:

The Lord is near! You are not alone. You may feel alone. You may think you are alone. But there is never a moment in which you face life without help. God is near.

Find a promise that fits your problem, and build your prayer around it. These prayers of faith touch the heart of God and activate the angels of heaven. Miracles are set into motion.

No more “if only.” It is the petri dish in which anxiety thrives. Replace your “if only” with “already.” Look what you already have. Treat each anxious thought with a grateful one, and prepare yourself for a new day of joy.

Sauvigone for Good–chocolate creations

Sauvigone for Good

by J.C. Eaton

Sauvigone for GoodNorrie, part owner of Two Witches Winery in Penn Yan, New York, is doing her part to facilitate the wintery Chocolate and Wine Festival that is sure to draw a crowd to the benefit of the wineries on Seneca Lake. Three world class chocolatiers will be competing for a large cash prize plus lots of media attention. First, there will be three days of demonstrations and wine pairings at the wineries. Norrie has a great crew who can manage normal issues that might arise. No one is prepared, however, for murder, scheming, and sabotage.

To counter bad publicity that is sure to arise, Norrie sets out to investigate a puzzle that involves the chocolatiers and other mysterious guests from Europe. Her friends Don and Theo at a neighboring winery offer support, and Gladys, who works for the county sheriff, can be counted on for the occasional leak of information. Norrie has had run-ins with Deputy Hickman before. He associates her with disasters and repeatedly warns her off her attempts at investigating.

Although the plot centers on murder and intrigue with lots of red herrings, there are side threads as well. Norrie, while “babysitting” the winery in her sister’s absence, has a job and deadlines as a screenwriter. In addition, she is sorting through her feelings for Godfrey, a young entomologist friend who is very helpful whenever called upon, and for Bradley, a lawyer she is dating. 

I recommend Sauvigone for Good by J.C. Eaton as a fun cozy mystery, clean and interesting. I’m looking forward to the next whodunit by this husband and wife writing team.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #4 in The Wine Trail Mysteries but could be read as a standalone.

Publication:   December 10, 2019—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)

Memorable Lines:

“Do you want any of us to go with you?” Stephanie asked. “It’s not a problem for me. My husband can put the boys to bed instead of having a love affair with the remote.”

It was another frigid morning and the snow in our vineyards glistened from the crust of ice that had formed on top of it. Another picture-perfect postcard for the Finger Lakes, unless you actually had to be outdoors.

“…And she’s got a smirk on her face that makes the Cheshire Cat look like an amateur.”

Twins for the Mountain Firefighter–standing up for those you love

Twins for the Mountain Firefighter

by Melinda Curtis

Twins for the Mountain FirefighterThea Gayle, working on her PhD in textiles, takes on a job as a nanny for ten year old twin girls. When their truck driving, widowed dad is absent for two months without paying Thea’s salary or the apartment rent, Thea finds herself and the girls literally on the sidewalk in Seattle with their belongings. When Thea latches on to the mention of Uncle Logan, a mountain Hot Shot firefighter, she packs the girls and their possessions in her yellow VW Beetle and heads to Silver Bend, Idaho.

In the little town she discovers Logan, aka Tin Man because he “has no heart,” still in deep distress over the death of his twin sister Deb, the girls’ mother. He is having trouble coping with his grief, maintaining his challenging job, and caring for his aunt Glen who has declined rapidly both physically and mentally. Thea brings light into all of their lives, but she and Logan both had serious problems in their family backgrounds and wonder if they can overcome them to find happiness.

Melinda Curtis’ Twins for the Mountain Firefighter is clean and heartwarming, but it does address serious issues including abuse, abandonment, and trust. Although the series focuses on a crew of Hot Shots, there is more emphasis in this novel on relationships than on the actual firefighting. It has characters reaching deep into themselves to find strength, courage, and caring they never knew they had.

I would like to extend my thanks to Melinda Curtis for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance

Notes: #2 in the Mountain Firefighter series, but works well as a standalone.

Publication:   March 16, 2020—Purple Papaya

Memorable Lines:

She swung her foot, causing a ripple from the bells attached to her shoes, reminding herself to believe in sunshine and happily-ever-afters, of dreams being achieved.

The distance between them and their goals suddenly seemed insurmountable. She and Logan operated on two different planes. He guarded himself from others with invisible plates of armor and wanted to be alone. She called people to her with color and sound.

His acerbic niece turned to face him. And suddenly, it wasn’t Deb’s face he saw in her scowl but his own. Here was more fallout of his actions, proving he was like a rock dropped into a pond, creating ripples where he shouldn’t.

Have a Deadly New Year–Christie-inspired plot

Have a Deadly New Year

by Lynn Cahoon

Have a Deadly New YearToday was a great day to read a novella—short and complete in one sitting. Lynn Cahoon’s Have a Deadly New Year found Angie Turner and her staff of chefs at The County Seat restaurant offsite at a combination catering event and retreat. After providing a fancy multi-course meal to kick off a famous band’s reunion, the chefs were looking forward to a week’s working vacation in the huge, glamorous mansion. Complications arise when one of the band leaders is murdered and no one can go anywhere. The house is in a remote area, a blizzard strikes, and they are mandated to stay until the police return from another emergency. Are they under lockdown with a murderer and who might it be? 

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: This is a Farm to Fork novella. I love this series, and I normally find Lynn Cahoon’s books effective as standalones. I would not recommend it for this novella, however. It is just too short to comprehensively make all of the connections necessary for full enjoyment.

Publication:   December 3, 2019—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)

Memorable Lines: 

“I have a personal motto that it’s all about me.” “You’re the leading man in your own play.”

“I suppose you’ll be doing New Year’s resolutions during your week? Make sure they’re about you and not what others think you should do.”

“Negative energy never produces a positive outlook.”

Murder for Good–mysterious bequests

Murder for Good

by Veronica Heley

Murder for GoodAs with other books in the Ellie Quicke Mystery Series, Veronica Heley’s Murder for Good is an excellent mystery and a fun read. This is a series that does not need to be read in order as it is so easy to pick up on the characters as critical information is provided contextually. I have only read a few from the series, but I was immediately reengaged with the likable Ellie Quicke, who chairs a charitable trust fund and her husband Thomas, a semi-retired clergyman with a strong personal sense of right and wrong.

Although the plot goes off in many interesting directions, it begins with two main threads. Thomas is receiving bequests from a number of people who have passed away, some of whom he doesn’t even know. Also Thomas offered the use of a third story suite in his home to Hetty, a down on her luck woman that misfortune seems to follow. What was supposed to be a temporary arrangement has been interpreted as permanent by their houseguest. A loud and intrusive person, and a bad cook to boot, Hetty is being very stubborn about leaving.

Life gets complicated and even dangerous for Thomas and Ellie. Will Thomas be accused of murdering the elderly souls who list him in their wills? Can Ellie be strong in dealing with Hetty and others who try to bend her mind to their way of thinking? Ellie’s determined daughter Diana is caught in the middle of personal, health, and financial issues. Will Diana go so far as to accuse Ellie of murder when Ellie won’t agree to use trust funds to rescue her?

This was a fast and enjoyable read, mostly because of my desire to discover what would happen next. I knew who was behind the shenanigans long before the end of the book, but was unsure, as was Ellie, of just how far the culpability extended. Murder for Good left me satisfied with this story, but eager for another in the series.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:  5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #19 in the Ellie Quicke Mystery Series, but can be read as a standalone

Publication:  December 2, 2019—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

Oh dear! Ellie knew that ring. Her daughter Diana always rang the bell as if the Hounds of Hell were on her heels. Ellie hastened to open the front door, and yes, it was Diana.

She didn’t want to go in for proper dieting. Yes, it would be good to go down a dress size but she believed in moderation in all things. Well, most things, anyway. And if she wanted to binge on a chocolate orange every now and then, well, that was her concern and no one else needed to know about it.

…but am I personally up to dealing with such a huge responsibility? Dear Lord, grant me the wisdom to decide how to handle this. Oh, and the strength to stick to my decisions.

The Oceans Between Us–disgrace for two nations

The Oceans Between Us

by Gill Thompson

The Oceans Between UsA very good storyteller, Gill Thompson discovered a story that needed to be told and related in such a way that it reached past the bare facts. In The Oceans Between Us, she has done just that.

I was pulled into the story relating to each of the characters as we explored them and their part in making history. Molly and Jack are British mom and son separated when a wartime bomb is detonated destroying their home. They end up oceans apart and although the thread flowing through the book is their longing for each other, their lives continue on with highs and lows. Other themes are institutional abuse and racial discrimination. Those are hard and cold terms that come alive as we watch them played out in this story. The events are a part of history I was unaware of. You’ll want to read this book to see one author’s view of how it may have played out on a personal level and discover if justice was actually ever served.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Headline for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction

Publication:   March 21, 2019—Headline

Memorable Lines:

Everything seemed out of kilter. Like when she’d tried for hours to do a jigsaw here at Warlingham, only to realize half the pieces came from another set.

Jack was a frozen child, forever trapped in her mind in his five-year-old body. Molly could no more imagine him at eighteen than she could fly.

But the lawyer in him resisted the child. He couldn’t risk his career before it had started. Bindoon had given him brawn but it hadn’t robbed him of a brain. Besides, you didn’t fight violence with violence. You fought it with cunning.

The Confession Club–baring your soul

The Confession Club

by Elizabeth Berg

The Confession ClubAs a group of women, representative of all ages, convene each week, we get a glimpse into their pasts and their presents, their hopes and dreams for the future. The members of the Confession Club eat, drink, talk, laugh, and cry as they share their most secret moments with each other. There is joy and also an underlying sadness as we experience poignant moments of human desires and frailties. The meetings tie together the characters; but their stories extend into other chapters, and their lives overlap outside the club and with others who are not a part of the group.

My favorite characters are Iris, who teaches a baking class, and Maddy, Iris’ landlady. I also enjoyed Maddy’s daughter, Nola, a precocious seven year old with an insatiable appetite for learning, life, and fun. Although unstated, a current flows through the book pointing to the concern that  everyone is going through something. The characters are realistically portrayed with frailties and strengths that make you want to know them. The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg is a quick read with a tale that draws you in and keeps you coming back. Berg is a master of both storytelling and language, This is the third book I have read by her, and it just makes me want to return to the well of literary magic found in her writing.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: Though I wouldn’t officially consider this a series, there are characters and references in it that originate in The Story of Arthur Truluv and Night of Miracles. It is certainly not necessary to read either to enjoy The Confession Club.

Publication:   November 19, 2019—Random House

Memorable Lines:

“They’re snobby. The displays are so fancy you don’t feel you can touch them. You stand in front of the cheeses and it’s like they’re whispering to one another about you, in French.”

The filing of citizenry out from coffee shops always reminds Iris of cattle coming out of a barn in the morning, in their slow, blinking line. Not the most flattering of images, but for her, it’s calming, suggesting a kind of optimism about at least one thing in the world. A new day. A new start.

She envies Nola for the way she is always in a rush to do everything, the way she rises so quickly to the possibility of joy. Most of all, she envies Nola her default setting of goodwill toward man, beast, or weather.

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