Monday, January 31, 2022

Tomorrow's the Day: Forbidden City by James Ponti

Today's review is coming out tomorrow! This is the third book in a wonderful series...yes, I can say that because I actually have read the first two (see, it's happening more and more often!). I've always had a special spot for spies (key in Mission Impossible theme song here, please....and now, you'll have that stuck in your head all day), and this one is a fun one with humor, heart, and everything to make a middle grade spy story entertaining. So, there was no way I was going to skip out on an ARC of this book. It's been sitting in my pile for a couple of months just waiting for release day (patience is hard).

Ready to dive into the world of spies? (key in Mission Impossible again)

City Spies #3
by James Ponti
Middle Grade Adventure / Spies
448 pages
ages 8 to 12


In this third installment in the New York Times bestselling series from Edgar Award winner James Ponti, the young group of spies help a fellow agent in another international adventure perfect for fans of Spy School and Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls.

After taking down a mole within their organization, the City Spies are ready for their next mission—once again using their unique skills and ability to infiltrate places adults can’t. The sinister Umbra has their sights set on recruiting a North Korean nuclear physicist by any means necessary, and the City Spies plan to keep an eye on his son by sending Paris to the chess prodigy’s tournaments in Moscow and Beijing.

Meanwhile, Sydney’s embedded as a junior reporter for a teen lifestyle site as she follows the daughter of a British billionaire on tour with the biggest act on her father’s music label to uncover what links both the band and the billionaire have to a recent threat from an old Soviet missile base.

From a daring break-in at one of London’s most exclusive homes to a dangerous undercover mission to a desperate search and rescue operation on the streets of Beijing, the City Spies have their work cut out for them on their most dangerous mission yet.



Intrigue, puzzles, and forming friendships run high in an exciting race to solve the code and travel the world in the process.

This is the third book in the series, and while the others are quite a bit of fun and I do recommend them (yes, I read the first two already), these aren't hard to dive into and join the fun without hitting the other books first. 

I do enjoy this series. Not only do the characters come across naturally but there's a nice sense of humor mixed in. Of course, there's tension and action and moments, where it's not clear if the heroes will complete their mission (and of course, that would have terrible consequences if they didn't), but there's also quirks in their personalities, shopping, misunderstandings, forming friendships, and personal issues (nothing to heavy). So while all of this dances along spies and such, it also carries the needed lightness to make it an easy and enjoyable read.

One of the things, which makes this book so enjoyable (outside of the needed atmosphere) are the character strings. Each one (outside of Charlotte) has their own, distinct subplot and problems to solve, while working on the bigger, main one (although Brooklyn is stuck in Scotland first). There's the friendship dynamic, and there's a bit of a type of family dynamic thanks to 'Mother'. And then, there's the travel. The author is a busy guy as he covers quite a bit of ground and research (whether in reality or information wise). It's a travel around the world, which incorporates enough details to make each place unique and, yet, never bogs down with descriptions. This one flows with a well-woven pace the entire way through, and that makes it a treat.

My final thoughts, this is a middle grade series to not be overlooked. The writing sits, the characters are tons of fun, the adventure is there, and...well, it's simply a good read.

And here he is...

James Ponti is the New York Times bestselling author of three middle grade book series: the all-new City Spies, about an unlikely squad of five kids from around the world who form an elite MI6 Spy Team; the Edgar Award–winning Framed! series, about a pair of tweens who solve mysteries in Washington, DC; and the Dead City trilogy, about a secret society that polices the undead living beneath Manhattan. His books have appeared on more than fifteen different state award lists and he is the founder of a writers group known as the Renegades of Middle Grade. James is also an Emmy–nominated television writer and producer who has worked for many networks including Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, PBS, History, and Spike TV, as well as NBC Sports. He lives with his family in Orlando, Florida. Find out more at


1 comment:

Heather N. Quinn said...

Thanks for giving us some insights into this series. I've seen it about, but there is always something else to read, so I haven't picked it up. I will now. You're enthusiasm is infectious.