September 24, 2021

City of Thieves Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the CITY OF THIEVES (Battle Dragons #1) by Alex London Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


CITY OF THIEVES (Battle Dragons #1)
Author: Alex London
Release Date: September 21, 2021
Publisher: Scholastic
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 272

Find it:  GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo,

In a modern mega-city built around dragons, one boy gets caught up in the world of underground dragon battles and a high-stakes gang war that could tear his family apart.

Once, dragons nearly drove themselves to extinction. But in the city of Drakopolis, humans domesticated them centuries ago. Now dragons haul the city’s cargo, taxi its bustling people between skyscrapers, and advertise its wares in bright, neon displays. Most famously of all, the dragons battle. Different breeds take to the skies in nighttime bouts between the infamous kins―criminal gangs who rule through violence and intimidation.

Abel has always loved dragons, but after a disastrous showing in his dragon rider’s exam, he's destined never to fly one himself. All that changes the night his sister appears at his window, entrusting him with a secret...and a stolen dragon.

Turns out, his big sister is a dragon thief! Too bad his older brother is a rising star in Drakopolis law enforcement...

To protect his friends and his family, Abel must partner with the stolen beast, riding in kin battles and keeping more secrets than a dragon has scales.

When everyone wants him fighting on their side, can Abel figure out what's worth fighting for?


"Battle Dragons is the riproaring opener to a surefire hit series. Alex London has envisioned a world as enthralling as it is dangerous―a society much like our own if it was built on the backs of giant fire-breathing dragons. Readers are sure to burn through the pages as they follow Abel through the shadowy underbelly of Drakopolis, dodging dragon-rider street gangs and a ruthless secret police to save his family. Abel is an endearing and relatable hero struggling under expectations as the youngest of three siblings, and his journey in building self-confidence is sure to ring true with young readers. Above all, cutting through the action is a moving tale of friendship and family, which is at the heart of this thrilling fantasy."- Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil series

"A rip-roaring loop-de-loop of action and adventure, Battle Dragons will keep readers at the edge of their seat as they cheer on Abel and his friends."- Kwame Mbalia, author of the Tristan Strong series


AT MIDNIGHT THEY’D LIGHT THE sky on fire. Abel stayed up to watch, keeping himself awake by reorganizing DrakoTek cards on his bed.

Frostspitter with alloy armor: +2 against Firemouths

Wyvern with tail flamethrower: +2 attack, -1 speed


He already had three of those wyverns, and they were too slow to do any good in a game. They were fast in close combat but slow in straightaways. Their poison breath couldn’t hurt other dragons, only the riders, and the flamethrower at the tail wasn’t all that useful. Anyone with a booster card or just a faster dragon from a premium deck could outrun and outfight a wyvern like that. Abel had no premium decks.

He rearranged the grid of cards on the bed so that the Frostspitter got the flamethrower and the wyvern got the alloy armor. In a real dragon battle, a wyvern could have both, but the game only let you mod your dragon once, unless you had bonus storage cards. Abel did not. Those came with the premium decks too, and his parents couldn’t afford to buy them. He could’ve won some off another player, but he only ever played with Roa, and he never won against his best friend. They were a way better player than he was.

He wished he hadn’t lost his Green Frost dragon with diamond blades to Roa last week. He’d have to plan for a rematch, though he doubted he’d win that either. Sometimes, while they were playing, Roa would try to keep him from losing by offering advice or reminding him about a dragon’s special skills, but he was reckless. Play first and ask questions later, that was Abel’s philosophy.

“And that’s why I always lose,” he told himself, yawning. It was 11:57. He could do this. He could stay awake.

Percy snored in a ball at his feet. The pangolin’s warm scales rested on his ankles. Somehow, his cuddly, scaled pet could curl into a ball and take up more of the bed than when he was stretched out with his long tail and claws extended. He never should have let the pangolin share the bed with him, but now, after all these years, it was too late. Percy wouldn’t sleep anywhere but at Abel’s feet.

He tried to nudge the sleeping ball off, but the only thing harder than moving a sleeping pangolin was moving an awake pangolin, and he didn’t want to risk waking Percy. So he slipped his feet out from under neath the snoring ball of scales and sat with his knees pulled up to his chest. He rested his chin on his knees and yawned again.

It was still 11:57. Why did waiting for something always make time slow down?

He had the shades wide open so the glow from the billboards and the lane lights and the landing platforms filled his room. A cheerful ad for Firebreather Soda blinked from the roof across the way, soaking him in vibrant red and yellow light. He didn’t need a flashlight to see his cards, and in three minutes, when the cleaning dragons came, it’d be bright as noon on a cloudless day.

Cleaning night happened six times a year, and in his entire thirteen years, Abel had never managed to stay awake for it even once. His mother insisted he was awake for it when he was a baby, because he was always awake when he was a baby, but he didn’t think that counted. He couldn’t remember and wouldn’t have known what he was seeing anyway. Babies didn’t know what dragons were and definitely didn’t know what the Department of Sanitation was.

Now that he was thirteen, he knew. Every two months, all the buildings in the city put their big bales of garbage on the roof, and a team of long- wing Infernals flew over each neighborhood to burn up the trash with their fiery breath. Then a team of Goatmouth short- wing dragons followed and ate up all the ashes. The fire from the Infernals stayed overhead and couldn’t hurt you unless you were standing on the roof of a skyscraper at midnight for some reason, but Goatmouth dragons would eat anything they saw: ashes or metal or food scraps...or pets. Or people.

In preschool, every one watched a video about the dangers of being outside on cleaning nights, and they’d watched it at the start of every school year since. The video hadn’t been updated since before Abel was born. He didn’t know the star’s name, though she’d been a famous actor when his parents were younger. She’d also famously lost her teenaged son when he snuck out on a cleaning night and got eaten by a Goatmouth.

That was not the kind of fame anyone wanted.

So it was a pretty big surprise when Abel looked out the window and saw a person in all black leaping across the balconies outside his building, with two minutes until midnight.

He looked up at the silhouettes of the dragons circling in a wide V formation, preparing for the big burn. Infernals were bright red from nose to tail, and they had the longest flame range of any dragon, but they flew slowly. The shadows of Goatmouths swarmed around them like flies around a light bulb. These “dragonflies” were fast as lightning when they dove and weighed five tons each. A Goatmouth dragon could swallow the small person leaping along the balconies without even slowing down to chew.

Ninety seconds left.

The Infernals made a wide turn, circling for their approach to Abel’s neighborhood.

The figure outside scurried along a landing platform, midway up the next- door apartments. They ducked the security cameras and then leapt into open air, catching a balcony ledge on Abel’s building with their fingertips, then hoisted themselves up.

Could it be a tagger? There was already a graffiti mural on this side of the building. Someone had painted a blazing sun, which held the silhouette of a roaring dragon inside it. It was the symbol of the Red Talons kin, the gang who ran this neighborhood. No one would dare tag over their symbol. Then again, no one would dare climb the side of his building on cleaning night with...oh no...only sixty seconds to go!

The figure didn’t stop at the graffiti. Instead, they jumped like a dancer from one balcony railing to the next. They leapt fearlessly, and there was something familiar in their movements, something Abel couldn’t quite place.

He looked up toward the cleaning dragons, just above the skyline now. He saw the first hint of flame from their lips, and then, FWOOOSH!

The sky ignited. A wall of blazing orange fire filled his view from one end to the other, and spilled toward his building like a sheet being pulled over the neighborhood.

Twenty seconds.

He had to lean his head against the glass to see the figure now: scurrying from above, two stories up and three apartments over from his.

Why did they look so familiar?

It didn’t matter. They were about to be burned to a crisp, or eaten by Goatmouths, or both.

Ten seconds.

Now the figure was just above his window. The dragons were across the street, flames nearly blue with heat as they incinerated the rooftop garbage around the Firebreather soda ad. The glass of his window warmed his forehead.

And then Percy uncurled at the foot the bed.

“Percy, what are you doing?”

Percy never uncurled for strangers.

And that’s when the figure outside dropped down to Abel’s window. The climber had on clawgloves, one of which held the window frame. Good thing too, as his room was on the sixty- seventh floor. The other pulled the mask off her face.

“Lina!” Abel shouted.

His sister clung by one hand to his windowsill, as the longwings lit the sky on fire.

Ashes rained into her dark hair, and two dozen ravenous dragons dove from above.


“OPEN THE WINDOW, PLEASE!” she shouted, although the roar and screech of the city’s dragons directly above their building made her voice almost impossible to hear.

Abel knew what she was asking— because what else would she be asking?— but he was frozen in place. He was a little embarrassed his big sister was seeing him in his Dr.! Drago boxer shorts playing with his DrakoTek cards, and he was a lot shocked to have seen her leaping from building to building at midnight.

He remembered the actor whose teenager had been eaten on cleaning night. Was this just something teenagers did, recklessly courting death and disaster? Now that he was a teenager, would he end up doing it too?

Unlikely. He didn’t even like heights, which was how he’d failed his Dragon Rider Academy Entrance Exam when he was eleven and ended up at Municipal Junior High 1703.

“Um, like now, please?!” His sister pounded on the glass to make sure he understood.

“Right! Right!” Abel unlatched the window. Even in the face of great and imminent peril, he was easily distracted.

That was also why he’d failed his Dragon Rider Academy Entrance Exam. According to the report they got in the mail with his Notice of Failure, he was reckless, easily distracted, and afraid of heights. Not a great combo for a dragon rider. He really wished he hadn’t seen the report. Sometimes it was better not to know what adults thought about you.

The moment he slid the window open, his sister tumbled into his room and slammed it shut behind her.

A huge claw swept over the window frame, screeching across the dragon- proof glass, backlit by the fire in the sky. It cast a huge claw- shaped shadow over Abel, his sister, and the wall of his bedroom.

It was 12:01 a.m.

All apartment buildings were made with Dragon-Resistant Materials, so they were safe inside. The claw vanished above the window frame, and Abel fell back onto his bed, trying to slow his heartbeat down by rubbing Percy’s chin and taking deep breaths. Goatmouths were a lot bigger up close than he’d thought they’d be.

Military riders and Dragon’s Eye agents flew dragons three times their size or more. Abel was relieved for a second that he had failed his Academy entrance exam. As much as he dreamed of being a dragon rider like his oldest brother, Silas, he was more likely to get a job at Chimera’s All- Night Coffee + Comics like his sister. He loved comics and games and books, and he imagined he’d love coffee too, if he was ever allowed to try it.

Lina was supposed to be working the night shift at Chimera’s right now.

Instead, she was in his room, catching her breath with her head between her knees. Her hands shook. He noticed that her black shirt was shredded at the shoulder but not torn. It looked . . . burned. His heart was racing, but it was his big sister who had been in grave peril a few seconds ago.

Abel turned to her. “UM. WHAT?” She looked up at him, and he asked, a little softer, “Are you okay?”

He felt weird, because she was his big sister and she was usually the one checking on him, but there was nothing usual happening right now. He really wanted to know what was going on. He also really wanted to put some pants on. He crossed to his dresser to throw on a pair of sweats.

Lina’s dive into the room had scattered his DrakoTek cards across the floor. She looked over them and then up at his room like she was surprised to find herself there. Her eyes swept over his KINWARS movie posters, his Ravenous Riot album covers, and his fan art of half a dozen famous kin dragon riders.

The kin were gangsters. In real life, they weren’t the sort of people he wanted anything to do with. Every neighborhood had its powerful kin. They hung out on street corners and in seedy clubs. They committed crimes and took money from honest people in exchange for protection from the other kins in other neighborhoods, who also committed crimes and took money from honest people in exchange for protection from the other kins . . . and so on. Every kin threatened people and every kin stole; it was just a question of who they threatened and who they stole from.

But the cool thing all kins did was battle with their dragons in epic street rumbles, which were the stuff of legends. Abel loved movies and comics about the kinners, even if they scared him in real life.

“They’re not that good,” Lina said about his drawings.

“Hey!” he objected. Instead of explaining what she was doing leaping across buildings when she should have been inside selling coffee and comic books to the weird customers who shopped at Chimera’s on a Sunday at midnight, she was insulting his art.

“No, your drawings are great!” she apologized. “I meant those riders. The best dragon riders in a kin battle are the ones you never hear about. They never get caught. I’m just saying. You only ever hear about the losers.”

Abel rolled his eyes. Lina was always correcting him about kin stuff, like she was some kind of expert. Some of the kinners from the Red Talons kin shopped at Chimera’s, and so did members of the two other big kins in the city, the Sky Knights and the Thunder Wings. Chimera’s was considered neutral territory, because it was the only good comic shop in the city and every one

liked Fitz, the owner. But selling kinners chocolate- covered espresso beans and the latest issue of WingMaidens didn’t make Lina an expert in the city’s criminal underworld.

“ were you doing outside? I didn’t know you could parkour like that. It was...” What could he say? Scary? Bonkers? Stupid? “Cool,” he said.

“It was not cool,” Lina scolded him, and then pulled something out of her shirt. A comic. “It was a mistake. Something went wrong...I don’t have time to explain. Just...this is for you.”

She held the comic out to him. It was an issue of Dr. Drago he already had. Drago Khorram, famed vigilante veterinarian, helps an injured wyvern that belongs to a kin boss. The kin boss! forces him to poison an enemy kin’s dragon, but Drago won’t defy his veterinarian’s oath to do no harm, so his family gets kidnapped. He has to team up with Detective Stoneheart to rescue them.

Abel read it the day it came out.

“Thanks, but I have that one already,” he told Lina.

“You don’t have this one,” she said. “ There’s variant artwork on page eighteen. Trust me. This one is rare.”

He took it from her, and as he did, a small keycard fell out. It looked like the kind from a hotel, but when he picked it up, he saw it was blank. No logo even.

“Your bookmark?” He offered it back to her.

“Every thing okay in there?” His mom knocked on his door. Lina pressed herself up against the wall by Abel’s dresser. She put her finger on her lips, imploring him to keep quiet about her.

He frowned, but he understood. There was a code between siblings that was like the code between kin: You don’t snitch on your siblings.

“Yeah, Mom,” he called through the door. “I was just staying up to see the cleaning.”

“I heard talking,” she called back. The knob turned. Lina’s eyes widened.

“Don’t come in!” Abel yelled. “I’m...uh...not dressed?”

The doorknob stopped turning. “Go to sleep, honey,” his mom said, and he heard her steps as she went back to her bedroom.

“Thanks,” Lina whispered.

“You need to tell me what’s going on,” Abel insisted.

“I can’t,” she said. Abel’s shoulders tensed. She was in his room, and he’d protected her from the dragons outside and from their mom. She owed him an explanation. He was about to tell her so, when there was a loud knock at the door.


But it wasn’t his door. It was the apartment door. Who would be visiting after midnight? And on cleaning night, when no one was supposed to be on the streets?

He looked out the window. The dragons had moved on from the neighborhood. There was no ash falling, so the Goatmouths would have left too.


“I need you to promise me something,” Lina whispered.

“Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

“I need you to keep it safe,” she said.

“Keep what safe?”

“Promise me,” Lina repeated, desperate. “And you can’t tell anyone I was here. Not Mom or Dad or Silas. Especially Silas. For all their safety.”

“Who is at the door?” Abel asked. “Are they here for you?”

Instead of answering him, his sister grabbed his shoulders and bent to look him straight in the eyes. “Promise me,” she said.

“I promise,” Abel agreed.

“Swear on a secret,” she pressed him.


“So I know you’ll keep you the promise you make, swear to me on your biggest secret,” she said.

“I don’t have any...I mean...I...” His heart was racing again, but his sister was looking at him with such intensity, in a way no one had ever looked at him before, like this was the most important thing in the world. She chewed her lip anxiously. She was his big sister and he loved her; how could he not do what she asked?

“I swear,” he said quietly. “I swear on the secret that” He scratched the back of his neck. It felt hot. “I’m glad I failed the Academy entrance exam. I was, like...afraid to go.”

He exhaled loudly. His neck cooled, like the heat of the secret had been released just in time.

His sister nodded. Then she even smiled. “I’m glad you failed it too, you know. But don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone. Your secret is safe with me.”

“And yours with me,” Abel felt confident, mature, like someone who could be trusted.


“We know you’re home!” a loud voice shouted from the hall outside the apartment. Abel’s new confidence faltered. “Open the door or we open it for you!”

He heard his parents’ footsteps. He cracked his bedroom door open and could just see the apartment door if he leaned out a little. As his mom opened it, his father stood in the middle of the room, trying to look tough. He’d only recently gotten out of the hospital for Scaly Lung, and had lost a lot of weight, so his version of tough wasn’t very intimidating. It looked even more ridiculous when two big enforcers from the Red Talons kin thundered into the apartment and slammed the door behind them, bolting it shut.

“Kinners!” Abel gasped, turning back to his sister...but she was gone. He rushed to the window but couldn’t even see which direction she went.

“Where’s your daughter?” one of the kinners bellowed. Abel locked the latch on his window again before he poked his head back into the hall.

“She’s...she’s not here,” his mother said.

"That’s what they said at the comic shop too,” the other kinner snarled.

Each had the Red Talons symbol tattooed on his neck; they each wore red scaled leather jackets with black shirts below them, and each one had a huge dragon’s talon tucked into his belt. One was bald except for a tuft of blue hair just above the center of his forehead, while the other had shaved his bright blond hair in swirling stripes. That one’s arms were bigger than Abel’s entire waist, and he was the one who crossed the living room to the shelf in the hall.

Abel pulled back and watched him through the crack in the door as he took a framed family picture off the shelf. He held it up.

“You have two other children,” he said. “Silas and Abel, right?”

Abel couldn’t see his parents now, but he could imagine their worried faces. He’d seen his parents’ worried faces a lot: like when Mom got promoted to deputy shift supervisor at the dragon feed plant and knew she wouldn’t be around to make sure Abel did his homework and ate healthy dinners. Or when Silas aced his Academy entrance exam and went off to be a cadet, and Lina aced her exam and refused become a cadet, and worked at the all- night comics and coffee shop instead. Abel had also seen their worried faces when he failed his entrance exam. He didn’t need to see their faces to know what their faces were right now.

His parents had a lot to worry about.

They were about to have more.

ALEX LONDON is the author of over 25 books for children, teens, and adults with over 2 million copies sold. He’s the author of the middle grade Dog Tags, Tides of War, Wild Ones, and Accidental Adventures series, as well as two titles in The 39 Clues. For young adults, he’s the author of the acclaimed cyberpunk duology Proxy, and the epic fantasy trilogy, The Skybound Saga. A former journalist covering refugee camps and conflict zones, he can now be found somewhere in Philadelphia, where he lives with his husband and daughter or online at

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

(3) winners will win a finished copy of CITY OF THIEVES (Battle Dragons #1) - US Only.


Tour Schedule:

Week One:


Nonbinary Knight Reads



YA Books Central






Don't Judge, Read






The Bookwyrm's Den






Rajiv's Reviews



Locks, Hooks and Books





Week Two:


The Momma Spot



Lifestyle of Me



Books a Plenty Book Reviews



Two Points of Interest



Fyrekatz Blog






#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog



Books and Zebras @jypsylynn



A Dream Within A Dream



BookHounds YA


1 comment:

  1. Great cover and fantastic premise. I am excited to read this book.