Sunday, April 18, 2021

Book Review: Golden Gate by James Ponti (City Spies #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Rich characters in a fast moving, entertaining story
Cons: All cons are classified
The Bottom Line:
Kidnapping at sea
Kicks off second adventure
As good as the first

The City Spies Cross the Pond

Last year, I completely fell under the spell of the City Spies, so I was anxious to see what James Ponti would have in store for them in the second book in the series, Golden Gate.  Once again, I loved it.

If you haven’t met these spies, they are MI-6’s most unusual assets, 5 teens and pre-teens who have been trained to be the best spies on the planet.  As a result, they take on jobs where adult spies would stand out.  For example, as the book opens, Brooklyn and Sydney are on board a ship for a week of marine biology targeted at young women.  While they certainly do appreciate the science they are getting, they are really there to covertly guard two of the other teens on the ship.  And it’s a good thing, too, when Umbra agents show up trying to kidnap the girls.

Meanwhile, there is a new lead on a mole inside MI-6 and a lead in a secret project for Mother, the spy in charge of all the City Spies.  Might it tie into the kidnapping?

This book starts with a bang and never really lets up.  Given the title, it’s no surprise that our heroes wind up traveling from their home base in Scotland to San Francisco at some point, but I was never bored watching the story unfold until we got there since there were plenty of complications along the way.  I was turning pages as quickly as I could several times, and I devoured the book in just a couple of days.

While all the characters get their moment to shine, this is more Sydney’s book than any of the others.  She is the one with the most character growth.  While I expected where she wound up, I still enjoyed the ride.

One reason I enjoyed the ride is the characters as a whole.  They are a diverse lot, and the book shows how diversity gives us strength without ever preaching.  It really does take all the characters to figure things out.  And, while the characters do have their internal conflicts, we can tell how much they truly do care for each other, which is something else I love.  In fact, I might have teared up a few times while reading.

Of course, you do have to go along with the ride – that these kids are this good at what they do.  But that’s the entire premise of the series, right?  Believe me, it is well worth it.

I grew up in the north San Francisco Bay Area, so I especially enjoyed the scenes set there.  It was fun getting to see the city again through fresh eyes.

I can’t leave out the humor.  I was laughing at some of the character’s interactions or the situations they got into as the book progressed.

I am already anxious to spend more time with these City Spies.  If you have middle graders in your life, they will love Golden Gate.  And I certainly wouldn’t blame you for reading them just to make sure they are good enough for the kids.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  1. This series sounds like a thrilling read! I love a story with strong characters who dare to things many adults don't -- and do it well. Sounds like a real page turner. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I've enjoyed previous books by James Ponti like FRAMED, VANISHED, and TRAPPED. This series sounds like another winner. Thanks for featuring on MMGM

  3. I'm totally intrigued by MI-6 kid spies. What a great idea for a series! It sounds like a fun settin gas well.

  4. We needed a new spy series for middle grade, and this one is perfect. Can't wait to see the next book! Glad Ponti is finally being celebrated.

  5. I love that the cons are "classified!"

  6. Sounds great! I love to read books that take place in places I have been before- and I have been to San Francisco. :)

  7. I always like humor in a book. I admit I have trouble with kids as spies. It's just too hard to believe, but maybe the humor will be enough. Thanks for the review.

  8. I've heard a ton of praise for this series, and this book sounds like a great addition to it! Thanks so much for the great review!


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