Rockstar Tours: CITY SPIES: CITY OF THE DEAD (James Ponti), Excerpt & Giveaway! ~US ONLY

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the CITY SPIES: CITY OF THE DEAD by James Ponti Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


The Book:


Author: James Ponti

Pub. Date: February
7, 2023

Publisher: Aladdin

Formats: Hardcover,
ebook, audiobook

Pages: 400

Find it: Goodreads, 

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

Codename Kathmandu, better known as Kat, loves logic and order, has a favorite
eight-digit number, and can spot a pattern from a mile away. So when a series
of cyberattacks hits key locations in London while the spies are testing
security for the British Museum, it’s clear that Kat’s skill for finding reason
in what seems like randomness makes her the perfect candidate to lead the job.

And while the team follows the deciphered messages to Egypt and the ancient
City of the Dead to discover who is behind the attacks and why, Kat soon
realizes that there’s another layer to the mystery.

With more players, more clues, and involving higher levels of British
Intelligence than ever before, this mission is one of the most complex that the
group has faced to date. And it’s also going to bring about a change to the
City Spies…



the rest of the CITY SPIES BOOKS now!





British Museum


ON A SLATE GRAY NOVEMBER DAY, ONE  hundred years after the discovery of Tutankhamen’s  tomb, a group of five young people converged in a part  of London known as Bloomsbury. Like Howard Carter, they were looking to recover treasures of Egyptian  antiquity. Except they weren’t going to dig a tunnel in  the desert, they were going to sneak through one in an  abandoned section of the London Underground. And the  artifacts they sought weren’t concealed in some long-forgotten tomb, they were on display at one of the busiest  museums in the world.

This was no excavation. It was a heist.

“Testing comms, one, two, three,” Kat said into  the microphone hidden in the red remembrance poppy  pinned to her lapel. “Can everybody hear me?” “Loud and clear,” said Paris.

“Perfectly,” answered Rio.

“All good on my end,” Brooklyn replied.

There was a pause as they waited for a final voice to  check in.

“Sydney, are you not responding because you can’t hear  me?” Kat asked. “Or is it because you’re still pouting?” After a moment, Sydney replied, “I’m sorry. I was  under the impression nobody cared what I had to say.” “So, pouting,” Paris commented.

“I’m not pouting,” Sydney said defensively. “I’m  just . . . disappointed. All I asked was that we slide the  break-in a couple hours so we could see the fireworks  at Battersea Park. You know how much I love Bonfire  Night. It’s going to be huge and everyone’s going to be  there.”

“Which is exactly why we’re going to be here,” Kat  said. “The police will be spread thin, and there are no celebrations scheduled for Bloomsbury. That means  they’ll be elsewhere, which dramatically improves the  probability of us not getting caught.”

Kat was the alpha on this mission, which meant she  had to come up with the plan to break into the British  Museum. She’d studied dozens of famous robberies and  noticed that many took place on holidays or during special events, when police and security altered their nor mal patterns and were understaffed. She picked this date  because of its connection to one of the most infamous  figures in British history.

On November 5, 1605, a soldier-turned-radical  named Guy Fawkes was captured before he could exe cute his plan to use thirty-six barrels of gunpowder to  blow up Parliament. Ever since, Britons had marked the  occasion with raucous public displays that included bon fires, burning effigies, and fireworks.

For Sydney, a born rebel who loved “making things  go boom,” it was as if Bonfire Night had been created  specifically with her in mind. And here she was in Lon don, so close to some of the biggest celebrations in the  country, yet she was going to miss out.

“Just tell me this,” Kat said. “Are you good to go with  the mission? Or is this going to be a problem?”

“Of course, I’m good,” Sydney replied. “I never let  anything affect our work.”

“Excellent,” Kat said. “And if it makes you feel better,  I’ll try to find something for you to blow up.” “I really appreciate it,” Sydney said. “That means a  lot.”

Rio cleared his throat and said, “Now that we’ve got  everybody’s feelings sorted, can we please get started?” “Yeah,” Brooklyn said, “you know we can’t do anything until you give us the word.”

As the alpha, it was Kat’s responsibility to say the  good luck phrase that kicked off every operation. “Okay then,” she said, surveying the museum entrance  from her vantage point in the Great Court. “This operation is hot. We are a go.”

And just like that, the City Spies were in action. The  five of them were an experimental team of agents, aged  twelve to fifteen, who worked for MI6, British Secret  Intelligence. They were called in for assignments in  which adults would stand out but kids could blend in.

In this instance, the job was to steal two items on display in a special exhibition called “Wonderful Things:  One Hundred Years of Tutmania.” They didn’t know  why they were stealing them; after all, spies weren’t supposed to ask too many questions. All they’d been told  was that it was in the best interests of the British government for them to do so.

Kat had never been the alpha for a mission this big,  and she’d prepared for it like she did most things, as  though it were a series of complex math equations. She  split the heist into two parts so they could, in her words,  “isolate the variables.” The theft wouldn’t happen until  after the museum closed. But now, while it was still  open, they had to set up things for later.

“Everyone good with what they’re supposed to do?”  she asked.

“Yes,” Rio said with a groan. “We’ve gone over it and  over it and over it.”

“Good,” Kat said. “Repetition leads to fluency, and  fluency leads to confidence. It’s a cornerstone of executing complicated mathematical processes.”

“Except this isn’t math,” Rio said. “It’s a break-in.” “You’re so funny,” Kat said. “Everything’s math. Now  blend in and disappear. Do your best to stay invisible.” “Don’t worry,” Sydney replied. “We’ll be ghosts.” “Yeah,” Rio added. “Math ghosts.”

With so many kids at the museum, they had no trouble blending in as they went to work on their specific assignments. Kat had even managed to get uniforms  which matched those of schools visiting on field trips.  This let them enter with large student groups which  bypassed the normal security line.

“We’re at the west stairs, and there are no surprises,”  Sydney informed the others.

She and Rio were double-checking the route they  needed to take later that night. The team had plotted it  using a virtual tour of the museum they found online.  This let them carefully study every room and look for  vulnerabilities. Now, they had to make sure that nothing  had changed or been added in the time since the tour  was filmed.

“There’s a CCTV camera on the ceiling,” Rio said.  “And the entrance to the Egyptian gallery is protected  by a roll-down gate that’s operated by a keypad next to  the doorway.”

“We’ll be able to control those once Brooklyn hacks  their computer system,” said Kat.

“Grab a photo of the keypad,” Brooklyn said. “Make  sure it shows the name of the manufacturer so I can  download an operator’s manual.”

“Got it,” Sydney answered.

She motioned for Rio to stand near the pad so it would look like she was taking a picture of him and not  the device.

“Smile,” she said, and he flashed a goofy grin. Next, they walked through the Egyptian sculpture  gallery, where they noted and took pictures of three different security features. There were motion detectors  along the wall, closed circuit television cameras on the  ceiling, and sensors eighteen inches above the floor that  were part of a laser trip-wire system.

They made special note of these locations because,  unlike in the movies, there wouldn’t be brightly colored beams of light they could dance around. The lasers  would be nearly invisible and tripping any one of them  would mean disaster for the mission.

As they mapped the location of two sensors near a  giant statue of Rameses II, Rio noticed a security guard  standing nearby. His nametag read officer hawk,  although his droopy moustache and lumpy physique  seemed more walrus than bird of prey.

“Target acquired,” Rio said in a low voice to Sydney. “Why him?” she asked.

“Two things,” Rio answered. “He’s friendly and he’s  awkward.”

Sydney gave him a curious look.

“Security guards are supposed to be standoffish to  intimidate you,” Rio said. “But notice how he smiles and  makes eye contact with people. He wants to connect and  be liked.”

“And awkward?”

“His tie’s crooked and his shirt’s tucked in unevenly,”  Rio explained. “Not only that, but his ID badge is  clipped to his belt instead of his shirt pocket, which  makes it easier to lift.”

“It’s scary how well you read people,” Sydney said. “I’ve got skills,” Rio said. “Nice of someone to notice  for a change.”

For years, Rio’s ability to read people had been essential to his survival. He’d lived on the streets of Rio de  Janeiro and made money by performing magic for tourists on a sidewalk near Copacabana Beach. To do that,  he had to know how to read an audience and be able  to perform amazing sleight of hand maneuvers. He was  about to do both to steal a security card they’d need later.

The lift was a two-person job that they’d done many  times. Sydney’s role was to be the diversion. “Excuse me,” she said, approaching the guard. “Do  you think you could take a picture of me with this statue  in the background?”

According to regulations, the guard wasn’t supposed  to do anything except keep an eye on the gallery. However, like Rio said, he was friendly and had trouble say ing no. “Of course,” he replied with a smile. “Let’s make  it quick.”

She handed him her phone and struck a pose. He  snapped the shot and gave it back to her, but when she  looked at the picture, she frowned.

“Ugh,” she said. “I’m sorry could you do it again. My  eyes are closed, and it’s backlit so you can’t see my face.” She directed him to move over a few feet, and as she  became more difficult, the guard became more distracted. This was when Rio brushed past him and deftly  slipped the badge off his belt. Next came the tricky part.  Rio had to copy the badge and put it back before the  guard noticed it was missing. If it was reported lost,  the protocol was for that card to be deactivated, which  would render it useless.

Rio slid it into his pocket and pressed it against his  phone, which had a built-in scanner and cloning app.  After a few seconds, he heard a single beep that told him  it was done. Then he moved back to them, where Sydney was unsatisfied with another picture and the guard’s  patience was running thin.

Rio nosed into their conversation. “The problem is the  light from that window,” he said pointing at the photo  on Sydney’s phone. “You need to be on the opposite side  of the room.”

The guard wanted no part of this. “I’m not moving  to . . .”

“Why don’t I take it?” Rio offered.

“Good idea,” said the guard.

As he handed Sydney’s phone back to her, Rio clipped  the ID badge back to the guard’s belt.

“Here you go,” said the guard.

“Thank you for your help,” said Sydney.

They walked away, and once they were out of earshot,  Rio whispered, “friendly and awkward, my two favor ite traits.” They crossed the room to take the picture  with better lighting so as not to draw suspicion from  the guard, and then they went directly to another gal lery and found a door marked staff only. They waited  until no one was around, and then Rio held up his phone  next to the ID sensor. A light on the sensor turned from  red to green and they heard the lock click open.

“We’re all set with the security doors,” Rio said  proudly.

“Nice job,” answered Kat.

Excerpt from City of the Dead by James Ponti. Text copyright © 2023.  Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

About James:

JAMES PONTI (he/him/his)
is the New York Times bestselling author of three middle grade book
series: 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
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

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway Details:

1 lucky winner will receive a finished copy of CITY OF THE DEAD, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One: 


Mythical Books

Excerpt/IG Post


A Dream Within A Dream



YA Books Central



Kait Plus Books

Excerpt/IG Post


Log Cabin Library



Kim”s Book Reviews and Writing Aha’s

Review/IG Post


Blog Write. Read. Live

Excerpt/IG Post


Lifestyle of Me



YA Book Nerd

Review/IG Post



IG Post


Week Two:





Eye-Rolling Demigod’s Book Blog

Review/IG Post



TikTok Review/IG Post


Review Thick And Thin

Review/IG Post



IG Review


Two Points of Interest




Review/IG Post



IG Review



Review/IG Post



IG Review




Monday, February 7, 2023 at 6:00pm CT

Virtual launch event hosted by Blue
Willow Bookshop
 (Houston, TX)

In conversation with Kelly Yang (author of NEW


Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at 7:00pm ET

In-person event hosted by Little Shop of Stories (Decatur, GA)

In conversation with Laurel Snyder (author


Thursday, February 9, 2023 at 6:00pm ET

In-person event hosted by Malaprop’s (Asheville, NC)

In conversation with Alan Gratz (author of REFUGEEGROUND


Friday, February 10, 2023 at 5:00pm ET

In-person event hosted by RJ Julia Booksellers (Madison, CT)

In conversation with Lauren Tarshis (author
of the I SURVIVED series)


Saturday, February 11, 2023 at 3:00pm ET

In-person event hosted by Books of Wonder (New York, NY)

In conversation with Sayantani DasGupta (author
of THE FIRE QUEEN series), Chris Grabenstein (author
and Karina Yan Glaser (author of THE


Sunday, February 12, 2023 at 2:00pm CT

In-person event at St. Louis
Public Library
 hosted by The Novel Neighbor (St. Louis, MO)

In conversation with George Jreije (author


Monday, February 13, 2023 at 7:00pm CT

In-person event hosted by Wild Rumpus
Books for Young Readers
 (Minneapolis, MN)

In conversation with Jacqueline West (author


Tuesday, February 14, 2023 at 5:30pm ET

In-person event hosted by Quail
Ridge Books
 (Raleigh, NC)

In conversation with Kwame Mbalia (author of
the TRISTAN STRONG series)


Thursday, February 16, 2023 at 10:30am ET

In-person event hosted by Politics & Prose (Washington, D.C.)


Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 2:00pm ET

In-person event hosted by The
International Spy Museum
 (Washington, D.C.)


Saturday, February 25, 2023 at 2:00pm ET

In-person event hosted at Lake Highland Prep School hosted by Writer’s Block
Bookstore (Orlando, FL)

In conversation with Jerry Craft (author

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