‘Dead and Gone’ (Books)
“Dead and Gone” (Ace, 312 pages, $25.95), by Charlaine Harris: Sookie Stackhouse has returned for another bloody adventure. “Dead and Gone” is the ninth novel about the telepathic waitress from fictional Bon Temps, La., and her dealings with the supernatural world of vampires, wereanimals (they’re not just wolves), shape shifters, witches, demons and fairies.
In the latest tale, wereanimals and shape shifters, known as the “two-natured,” have joined vampires in “coming out” to the human race. It starts with a woman turning into werewolf on the evening news.
The subsequent backlash could have made a good story line, but author Charlaine Harris of Magnolia, Ark., doesn’t go there. The only consequence is told in a third-person account by Sookie’s boss, Sam Merlotte, whose mother, also a shape shifter, is shot by her husband. Lesson learned: If you’re planning to tell your spouse that you’re a little different, hide the weapons first.
For those who haven’t read the previous Sookie Stackhouse novels, “Dead and Gone” is not the place to start. Your best bet would be to pick up “Dead Until Dark,” the first novel in the series and the basis of HBO’s surprise hit series, “True Blood,” produced by “Six Feet Under” creator Alan Ball.
Ziggy Marley (Music)
Ziggy Marley brings his reggae vibe to the young set with “Family Time.” But unlike many kid-oriented records, this one offers the right balance of music and message to make it enjoyable for the entire family. Make no mistake, this is a children’s album, but one that parents won’t seem to mind.
While this is Marley first album of children’s music, he’s no stranger to the genre. He performed the theme song to the PBS animated series “Arthur” and even supplied some tunes for “Dora the Explorer.”
Producer Don Was preserves the sunny feel of Marley’s music, letting it sound at times less like a children’s album. Under closer inspection, the lyrics give it away, especially on tracks like “ABC” and “Ziggy Says.”
Marley gets a lot of help on the record from some high-profile friends as well as his own family, including mom Rita Marley, sister Cedella, and even his three-year daughter, Judah.
Willie Nelson lends his distinct vocals on “This Train,” while Jack Johnson does his thing with “Cry, Cry, Cry.” Then there’s “Walk Tall” with Paul Simon, and Toots Hibbert, from Toots and the Maytals, doing “Take Me to Jamaica.”
No need to even read the directions for the board game Quelf ($28.90, 3-8 players, ages 12 and up). Gather up your tweens and teens, pick a strange character and move him along the multicolored brick road, according to the roll of the die, then read the card that matches the game board space and prepare for the unexpected.
Quelf has been described, variously, as the “weirdest, best game ever.” That’s as good a description as any of a game that will have you composing poetry about your armpits, orating in a foreign language you don’t know (but will make up) or ending every sentence in “izzle.”
There are trivia questions, brain teasers and charade cards, as well as Roolz cards with lasting consequences — you may have to shriek “pizza party!” every time the phone rings, or offer hushed golf-style commentary on other players’ actions for the rest of the game. It’s a fantastic game for family reunions and multigenerational play, too.