Murder a Cappella Murder a Cappella. When the Sweet Adelines International Barbershop Comnpetition brings Tina to San Antonio, she kicks back. For a week, she can forget about her career as a police officer. Time for fun, glitz, and as much a cappella singing as she wants. Who knows, there may even be four winners' crowns for their local quartet. But when two members die singing "Mister Sandman" in front of the Alamo, Tina discovers that bullets and barbershop are anything but a harmonious combination. Although police work was the last thing on her mind, Tina sifts through the sequins and the gossip, desperate to discover who wanted the singers dead. As the notes and the stakes rise higher, it becomes obvious the killer has more than a song in mind, and that Tina may be next in the crosshairs.

My Life as a Social Studies Project. Patrick has made it through six long years at Rothman Saunders Elementary. Now he just wants to spend his last year under the radar. But it’s hard when your mom’s in league with your teacher, your best friend ditches you for a girl, and you spend half your time babysitting an annoying second-grader. Between the vegetable pilgrimage (ill-advised) and his efforts (unsuccessful) to get kicked off student council, Patrick can barely get through a day without some new disaster. Then the whole school turns against him when he gets held responsible for “Landscaping Day,” which involves “work” and “Saturday” in the same sentence—never good. With the school carnival in jeopardy, however, Patrick may have a chance to redeem himself—and maybe even get his best friend back.

The Jack Factor. You've heard of Jack and the Beanstalk, but the original story never tells us, Who's the guy running around handing out magic beans? In my book, he’s an 11-year-old named William, who is stuck in the clouds. He’s a houseboy—more like slave!—for a mean giant who lives in the sky-city of Solonde. William longs to escape, but Bromos will never release him without a good reason. Then William finds a stash of magic beans—and discovers their extraordinary growth power. Can he trade himself for Jack? William snookers Jack into the sky, but his plan starts to fall apart immediately. The giant starts chanting “Fee, Fie, Foe, Fum,” and muttering about plans to eat Englishmen. As the giants’ secrets are revealed, William finds that Jack is a bigger factor in the plan than William had ever imagined.

Steamed. In 1856, the battle between steamboats and railroads is heating up. Carl Mueller grew up on his pa’s steamboat, the Betsy Ross, but Carl loves trains. Maybe his own future will be on land, not water. When his pa is injured in an accident, they are stranded in Iowa, where Carl is forced to find a job—with the railroad. Soon Carl feels trapped in the middle of the war between the railroad and steamboat interests. The railroads are spreading across the country, and the steamboatmen are fighting to protect their territory. Then Carl uncovers a plot to discredit the steamboatmen. Can he be loyal to his people and still pursue his dream?


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