5 STARS:Chicago Bound is a Jake McGreevy Novel by Sean Vogel. Jake and his best friend and rock-climbing companion, Ben, are on their way to Chicago to attend a performing arts camp during Christmas vacation. Going to Chicago brings some sadness and nostalgia for Jake, as his mother died there in a car accident many years before, when Jake was only two years old. While he’s unpacking a moving box before he leaves for the bus trip, he comes across a Teddy Bear bought for him by his mother. It has an Art Institute of Chicago tag on it. It also has a bit of discolored thread along a seam which, when pulled, reveals a crumpled note with some cryptic instructions from his mother. The note reveals the existence of a journal which Jake determines to find once he’s in Chicago.
Sean Vogel’s preteen adventure mystery, Chicago Bound, is action-packed and highly entertaining. Jake and his pal, Ben, are high-tech versions of the TV hero, MacGyver, and it’s a lot of fun to watch how they rig up a tracker to let them know when the camp’s very strict Dean is approaching. I also loved the historical information that is part of the underlying mystery concerning the lost World’s Fair mural of Mary Cassatt, a mural that is still missing outside the pages of Chicago Bound. This book also gives you a good idea into what a performing arts camp would be like, especially when the conductor happens to be world-famous and not a little bit intimidating. Art, mystery, music, humor and adventure — Chicago Bound has it all, and Jake, Ben, Natalie, Julie, even the stern Dean make it come alive. This is a grand read and recommended for anyone who’s still young-at-heart enough to enjoy a bit of action and adventure.
Fifteen-year-old Jake and his two friends, Ben and Julie are off to a special “camp” for gifted and talented kids. While a trip to Chicago during the holiday season is exciting in itself, for Jake, it is a reminder that his mother was killed there while pursuing her passion, verifying old art when he was just a toddler. Was her death an accident? Did she leave clues in an old journal that Jake treasures? Do NOT think this is a sad or downbeat tale! Chicago Bound by Sean Vogel is a wonderfully ingenious and fun adventure tale for young readers whose minds know no limits!
Sean Vogel has given his characters life with his brilliant sense for how four smart, clever and daring young teens could act if cut loose alone, in a large city, determined to solve both the mystery surrounding Jake’s mother’s death and the mystery of where the REAL painting is hidden. Perhaps this is how MacGiver was as a child?
The plot is clever, the execution is brilliant, over-the-top, fast-paced and completely captivating as I was taken from the academy where the children consistently out-witted the staff to a nursing home where the residents rise to Jake’s assistance with a sense of purpose! I admit, as the action revved up, I was there, my adrenaline was pumping and I could feel the excitement of the moment coming through each word written by the author who gives us a story to remember and heroes to love! Never doubt the power of youth, friendship or loyalty! You might want to watch out for those “seniors,” too!
An ARC edition was provided by MB Publishing, LLC in exchange for my honest review! Please note: this is part of a series, but lost nothing as a stand alone!
SALLY WEBSTER, AUTHOR OF EVE'S DAUGHTER: MODERN WOMAN, A MURAL BY MARY CASSATT
Having spent many years searching for Mary Cassatt’s 1893 mural done for Chicago’s World’s Fair, I was delighted to encounter Sean Vogel’s Chicago Bound in which the young Jake and his pals visit the city and discover that Jake’s mother was murdered in her own hunt for the mural. Tracking down the killer, and the Cassatt painting, takes the teenagers on a thrill-packed adventure from the Art Institute of Chicago, to a tea room in Marshall Fields, to the grand finale in, of all places, a retirement home. Chicago Bound is loving and eventful, and most of all a great read.
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW, Diane Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer
Chicago Bound is a powerful new Jake McGreevy novel that provides another thriller for middle-grade audiences; this one centered on Jake’s search in Chicago’s art world for clues to his mother’s untimely death.
When Jake accepts an invitation to join an elite group of students visiting Chicago for a two-week performing arts fundraising camp, he suddenly realizes that he’ll be seeing, for the first time, the place where his mother was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Moreover, he’ll be viewing the huge Mary Cassatt mural which his mother had been in the process of authenticating in the days before her death. With the discovery of a puzzling note from his mother hidden in the teddy bear which was her last gift to him, he comes to understand that his mother recognized a threat to her work and possibly her life—and provided a cryptic message to her family in the one place that would likely reach them.
Spicing his visit to Chicago is the opportunity to spend time with his friends Ben and Julie, both of whom match his skill at drawing quick conclusions and using technology to extend abilities, and who support his determination to investigate his mother’s death.
Right away they encounter a formidable obstacle in the form of one Dean Stanley, a take-charge director determined to keep their group in line and prevent any mishaps. When Jake discovers the reasons behind Dean Stanley’s fierce commitment to obedience and safety, it only lends fire to his evolving determination to find out what really happened to his mother in Chicago so many years ago.
Supported by his best friends, Jake follows his mother’s last footsteps which reveal art clues, issues of authenticity, and possibly a masterpiece which has yet to surface.
Mixed emotions accompany the protagonists at each step of their discoveries, making for a fast-paced and involving story line: ““My mother spent her life looking for this. She died because of it. I don’t know if I like the mural or hate it.”
Factor in unknown assailants who become determined to do anything to prevent Jake from learning the truth and the factor of time (his investigation must be done in the course of a short holiday, which is supposed to include performing for fundraising efforts) and add in the uncertainties of romantic possibilities with two very different girls and the stage fright of a friend who needs to overcome his fears to move ahead and you have a fine, multi-faceted read that pairs psychological overtones with a vivid, fast-paced plot.
Time is running out on many levels: for Jake, for his revelations about his mother’s last days and final contribution to the art world, and for a short stay in Chicago which is likely too quick to solve much of anything.
Like a compelling musical piece, Chicago Bound opens with an interesting promise of mystery and moves quickly and solidly to a crescendo of cat-and-mouse moves between Jake and his friends and unknown assailants who are committed to hiding the truth.
Readers will be fascinated to the end—and surprised by an ending which blends an art history investigation, a mother and son’s lasting connections, and commitments between good friends."
A definite 5-star book, I read this book without the benefit of the prior Jake McGreevy book and I felt it stood alone quite well. Jake, 15, and his friends Ben and Julie are off to a music “camp” for gifted musicians in Chicago that will raise money to help schools keep their music & afterschool programs. Jake’s “MacGuyver-like” talents provide some escapades and fun in the off time.
For Jake, this trip has extra poignancy, because Chicago is where his mother was killed when he was just a toddler. His mother had been there in Chicago to verify the provenance (history of ownership and authenticity) of a famous Mary Cassatt mural, and Jake stumbles upon clues that his mother felt she was in danger. In no time at all, Jake manages to be in danger as well.
END: Triumphant and Touching — and next up IS Jake McGreevy #3: Paris Plunder! TAGS: Art, provenance, mother-son bond, Chicago World’s Fair. READ-ALIKES: Readers may also enjoy Theodore Boone series by John Grisham.
MICHELLE D., REVIEWER 5 STARS: "Great book! I liked this story because it had a lot of good factual information, not to mention a great story line."
KAREN C., LIBRARIAN, REVIEWER 5 STARS: "Loved this story and the Chicago locale, especially. It kept me on the edge of my seat and I will heartily recommend the series both for the mystery and the geography aspects. Looking for more of Jake's adventures, they are certainly an easy recommend for middle school readers."
ELIZABETH H., REVIEWER 4/5 STARS: "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, history...it'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."
JENNIFER G., EDUCATOR, REVIEWER 4/5 STARS: "A well-written mystery for preteens that subtly increases their world awareness and vocabulary while speaking on their level in a respectful and compelling tone."
"When a kid grows up without a parent, it can be sort of tough. There is always an empty part of you that is filled with a million questions wandering everything about them. As with Jake McGreevy, his mother passed away when he was two years old to an accident not giving him a chance to get to know her. Before heading out on a winter break camp trip for students gifted in the arts, he found a stuffed animal with a note written by her. Not knowing what it meant, many questions about her went through his mind especially if he should tell his dad but he kept it to himself.
"Coincidentally, his trip going to the same town that she died, he saw this as an opportunity to find out what happened to her. While Jake and his friends decide to play detective and follow the clues that help him unravel her mystery, they encounter obstacles that lead the reader through a great plot with a surprise ending that makes an exciting conclusion to this fun read.
"If you didn't read the preceding book in this series, it’s not necessary but recommended based on the quality of this one. Ideally geared towards the preteen reader, I thought Vogel created a story easy to read, with likable characters that the reader can connect and relate to. Besides all the fun and adventure as the story unravels, it also embraces a story filled with loyalty, friendship and determination. So much a reader can appreciate, this is one that I think they will enjoy."
"Allow me to move beyond plot encapsultion, please. This is a smart YA book. These are bright, variously challenged kids, in real situations. As such they are relatable, even as their adventures are not the norm. The characters are smart, talented, geeky, gawky, resourceful, and responsable. They look out for one another, indeed have an outward look on life. Much to be learned about art, architecture, and great gadgets. Would recommend for ages 11 to 14." KATHY TALLEY
"Jake and his friends travel toChicagoas part of a program for gifted musicians. For Jake, this trip is about more than the program for gifted musicians. His mother, who died when he was a toddler, was killed inChicago, while searching for a “lost” artistic masterpiece. Jake’s trip suddenly turns into more than just the gifted program when he accidently discovers a cryptic note his mother left just before her death. Thus, Jake and his friends travel all over the Windy City searching for and following clues until they find a solution, running in and out of trouble as they search. This is a great book for young adults. It not only highlights the hard work gifted musicians put into perfecting their abilities, but brings out the value of friendship, love, familial responsibilities and dedication to one’s passion in life. The author has managed to weave a great tale, with the holidays as a backdrop, about the search for answers to the questions about what exactly happened to Jake’s mother and to the Mary Cassatt mural she was researching. In particular, I enjoyed the scenes the author inserted when Jake and his friends “fought their last battle” in the nearby nursing home, along with the home residents, against those who would prefer no one ever find answers to the questions Jake and his friends raise. I think anyone, young or old, would enjoy the descriptions and minute-by-minutes updates on the unique “weapons” the group and home residents devise and use and their effectiveness. This book has a plot equal to or better than many books I have previously read and will enthrall anyone who reads it. I received this book fromNetGalleyto read and review."