Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chicago Bound (Jake McGreevey #2) - Sean Vogel

Chicago Bound


GoodreadsJake’s plan for a carefree holiday at a musical performing arts camp in the Windy City hits a sour note when he stumbles upon a long-hidden message from his mother, art historian Karen McGreevy. She had traveled to Chicago thirteen years earlier on a dream assignment, never to return home. With his violin and his mother’s mysterious letter in hand, Jake, his best friend Julie, and new pals Ben and Natalie are heading west, where they will follow the clues and uncover the truth about a missing masterpiece, the meaning of friendship, and the enduring bond between a mother and her son.


Once again, my Netgalley mania struck!  Although this is the 2nd book in the series, I must have liked the title so much I requested it anyway (or I was dumb enough to not notice it was the second book.  It wouldn't be the first time).  And I am so glad I did!  There is just so much to enjoy about this book.  While some might find it too cutesy for their taste, I thought it was really heart warming.  And any time it skewed towards any suspicious looks from me, the author immediately put in a lot of details that really made a difference.  For example there's a scene in the book that plays out very much like Home Alone with all sorts of home made contraptions to stall the villains.  Just as I was about to roll my eyes out how naive and unlikely to succeed in the real world this plan was, Jake detailed an actually very plausible plan.  And it had all the fun you got from Home Alone! 

In general it was just so clear that the author had done his research.  And there's just so many interesting things in this book!  Jake and his friends are very tech savvy, Jake is well versed in architecture as his father is an architect and at least somewhat knowledgeable in art as his mother was...whatever you call an art verifier person.  It was never info dumped and never so much that you wanted to skip sections, just little snippets here and there that were plausible given the characters' backgrounds and I just loved seeing certain things referenced (particularly because it was set in Chicago), so it basically just felt like a lot of awesome shout outs for his readers who are interested in any of those subjects.  Even better?  Jake and most of his friends are musicians.  So this book was basically meant for me.  Musicians?  In Chicago?  I mean, there's a reason I requested this book despite it being the second in a series.  Oh speaking of - this is easy to read as a standalone.  The books are definitely separate novels that follow the same character, sort of the way mystery novels (like Nancy Drew) or adventure novels (James Bond, Dirk Pitt, etc.) can be.  But back to the music!  The author was clearly a musician (or if he wasn't I'd be shocked and very, very impressed at how well he portrays a lot of aspects about music that are glossed over or just plain wrong in books), although my guess is that he was a choral musician.  (But then that just might be me reading into things).  It's so great reading a book where the author clearly understands how it works!  The way rehearsals are run, that it's not just some magical talent - you become a musician with practice and hard work.

I'm just so excited that music was written in a realistic way!  I literally can not think of a SINGLE novel where the musicians weren't just magically talented or just lay about all day and acted bohemian or something.  I mean seriously.  Come on.

I also loved all the information about Chicago.  I mean, from the title this is no surprise.  But coming from a small town, I'm not used to getting to read about places I walk by all the time.  There's just something about that that makes me so excited.  Until this year I didn't even know that was a thing I cared about, but I love it.  So many references to a lot of the attractions downtown as well as some interesting things about the history of the architecture here, and some good mentions of the skyline.

 In case you didn't know, Chicago has the best skyline in the world.  You can show me skylines from New York, Hong Kong, and I'm sorry but they just don't compare.  I'm not usually one for non-nature settings, but this is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see.  ...sorry I really love it here haha

Vogel also makes a point to really include diversity, even amongst the main characters.  One of my favourite scenes is at a nursing home and Jake is addressing some of the military members there.  Among them were some of the first women in the army who were not nurses.  It really felt like the author made a conscious effort on this and some of the more PC sections, and while that's generally not my style, who am I to complain about something that I want to see in books? 

I know I primarily review YA books and that the characters in this book are fifteen, but I did want to say that it is definitely more of a MG book than YA fiction, just as a heads up for those of you are less inclined to read MG.  (Although I'd say this is a really fun book if you'd like to give MG fiction a shot!).  There's very little romance, although the attraction is there, and addressed.  Jake is a little level-headed about it in a nonteenagery way at times, but again it really didn't bother me.  It was clear the author took into account a lot of things about being a teenager, and I really appreciated that.  And you know what?  It's just really nice to read a book where romance isn't the main focus, or the next main focus.  This book is about Jake solving a mystery involving his mom and dealing with the fun, crazy messes he and his friends manage to get into.  It was refreshing, and very fun :)


Basically this is one of the best researched novels I've ever read, and at the same time SO FUN.  Usually super researched books get really dull (I'm looking at you Headlong).  I mean it just has everything in it - art, architecture, music, libraries, fancy tech stuff that I don't understand, gymnastics,'s fantastic!  If you like MG literature at all and are looking for a really fun read (most of my MG lit tends towards the dark and depressing, so this was a very nice change of pace), you should definitely check this out.  On the other hand, if cutesy isn't for you this probably isn't going to be your scene.


  1. Wahoo! I like books. I like music. Chicago... *shivers* Um, I'm happy to read about it from a distance. (As long as they don't talk about snow and wind all the time. My Floridian ways just don't jive with flurries any more.)

  2. Ahahah - that's how I felt about the idea of Chicago at first too! (I'm a Southern girl, so I totally get where you're coming from. I don't miss the summers there though, that's for sure) I love it here! And luckily this book is super optimistic about life so there's no whining about the weather thankfully :)

  3. If you are up to it, I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. :)

    ~Karina @  Watcha Reading

  4. Wow! Thank you! I'm e-mailing you to ask about the details :)

  5. Thanks for dropping by my post!

    New GFC/Bloglovin' follower.

    Great pick! I'll be sure to look into the first in the series. :)


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