Seraphina and the Black Cloak 

My husband and I toured the Biltmore Estate not long after I finished reading “Seraphina and the Black Cloak“. I was awed by not only the beauty of this place, but by the sheer attention to detail that Beatty imbibed into this work. All throughout the house, things were mentioned in detail. I had been to the Biltmore Estate before, but this book brought it to life for me. 
While it is middle-grade fiction, it is captivating and intriguing. Sometimes YA can be a little boring for my tastes, but this middle-grade book was so well plotted that it kept me turning pages.

This book delves into the fantastical and historical. It demonstrates the socio-economic differences of low, mid, and high class groups at the turn of the century. 

It also interprets some local legends. I especially enjoy his interpretation of the Catamount. 

One of the most valuable features from a child’s perspective, is that I suspect it would help foster resilience. Seraphina is diligent in rescuing her friends. She overcomes her own anxieties and social awkwardness to become the heroine. Also, it explores real evil and how sometimes good intentions without planning can be disastrous. 

While I have not been blessed with motherhood, I do hope to be a mother and often read parenting articles. In “How Danish Parents Raise the Happiest Children in the World” Jessica Alexander writes: 

Another difference: Danes actively teach empathy in school, starting in pre-school… Everything doesn’t have to have a happy ending. Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales (one of the most famous Danes) are often very dark or sad, but have been modified in America to fit a culturally accepted version… Reading books that deal with hard topics helps parents cover a wide range of emotions with their children and this has been proven to improve their empathy skills. I think sometimes in America we tend to avoid confronting the harder emotions if we can help it. In Denmark, they jump right into those!. 

It’s my theory that this book would help build empathy and emotional resilience in children. Even if I’m wrong, it’s still a great book for young readers and adults. 

Incan Gold

Don’t you just hate it when you have a large group of people and can’t find the perfect game? That’s where Incan Gold comes in. Relying on luck and a dash of  strategy, this game is what my husband calls “Indiana Jones meets Blackjack”. 

Incan Gold can accommodate up to 8 people. The game is well-designed and keeps everyone engaged since players have to vote to continue being a round after each card is drawn. The cards come in three types – treasures, hazards, and artifacts. When a player leaves a round determines how much the may win. 


We’ve played this game with adults only, and with two different groups involving children. It kept the children (7ish to 9) involved. Speaking of children, the rules aren’t difficult and it would be difficult to cheat (if that’s a problem for you). 

 With 5 -8 people, the play time didn’t change much either. The game is consistently about 20-40 minutes with 5 rounds.

The winner is the one with the most gold of course. 

I watched several videos on how to play before buying this game. This was the video that convinced me:

Buy it here

What’s your favorite game to play with larger groups?