Hopeless Heroes #2: Hera’s Terrible Trap! – Stella Tarakson

Illustrations – Nick Roberts

We first met Tim Baker when he accidentally broke an antique Greek vase while dusting to help his mother, who struggled to work two jobs to support herself and her son, in Here Comes Hercules!, the first book in the Hopeless Heroes series.

Hercules had been trapped inside the vase by his evil stepmother Hera, and upon his release Hercules decides to ‘help’ Tim complete his chores. Hercules’ brand of help tends to end in disaster and ruins the garden in the process.

With Hercules safely returned to Ancient Greece, Hera’s Terrible Trap! begins at the outdoor garden centre with Tim and his mother shopping for plants to replace those Hercules destroyed while ‘helping’ in the first book.

Tim has taken it upon himself to protect the newly mended vase. Evil Hera and her servant Hermes have already attempted to steal the vase to recapture Hercules so Tim is on guard. Despite Tim’s best efforts Hermes manages to steal the vase, along with a stowaway. Tim grabbed hold of the vase as Hermes made his escape and is now stuck in Ancient Greece.

In this book Tim reunites with Hercules and meets his wife Agatha and daughter Zoe. Against overprotective Dad’s wishes Zoe decides to steal the vase from Hera so she can’t use it to recapture Hercules. Unable to talk this determined little miss out of her plan Tim follows Zoe and the kids wind up on an adventure.

Together they come across other mythological figures including vain Theseus (who Zoe, despite how smart she is, hero worships), one of Medusa’s sisters Stheno and Zoe’s Grandpa Perseus. Along the way they encounter a labyrinth, weaponised fruit and guard dogs peacocks! Yet even if they make it out of their adventure alive Tim has no idea if he will ever find a way to return home to present day England, where his Mum is no doubt frantic that her son is missing.

In this book we get a glimpse at one of Leo the bully’s family members and it becomes clearer why Leo is a bully in the first place, which I liked and look forward to getting to know him better in future books. I wasn’t, however, a fan of Tim getting back at Leo for tripping him by then tripping Leo. During this scene I heard my dreaded adult voice chiding Tim for his actions. Thankfully my adult voice shut up for the rest of the book.

Whereas the first book obviously needed time to set up the story and mythology, there was more action and adventure in the sequel. I did find the first book funnier although that’s probably more a reflection of how much fun I found Hercules’ bumbling attempts to help Tim to be. I thought that Zoe, being a strong and independent girl, would have been somewhat immune to Theseus’ alleged charms. It turns out that even smart girls can become groupies to doofus types.

Overall I enjoyed the sequel more than the first book and plan to continue reading this series. If you haven’t read the first book you could get away with starting the series with this one as it begins with a recap of the first, but to get the most out of it I’d recommend you read them in order.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sweet Cherry Publishing for the opportunity to read this book. I’ll be looking out for Tim’s next adventure in Arachne’s Golden Gloves!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Tim Baker thinks his adventures are over until he hitches a ride to Ancient Greece on a stolen vase. Soon Tim finds himself trapped with an army of peacocks and a hero who can’t stop admiring himself. Put that mirror down, Theseus!

Thank the gods his new friend Zoe is there to help. Just don’t tell her dad …

Geronimo Stilton #10: Hang On To Your Whiskers! – Geronimo Stilton

💔 Achy Breaky Heart Month! 💔 Super 🧀 Cheesy 🧀 Edition!

Geronimo Stilton: Hang on to Your Whiskers was just as 🧀 Gouda 🧀 as The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid, probably better. In this book Geronimo falls in love at first sight at the Tail Trap Diner over a cup of spilled coffee. ☕️ Geronimo later discovers this 🐭 fabumouse 🐭 new love interest is none other than countess Stephanie von Sugarfur. He thinks she’s the best thing since 🧀 sliced cheese 🧀!

After spending big on an 🧀 Aboundance 🧀 of 🧀 cheesy 🧀 gifts for the countess and realising his love is unrequited he becomes 🧀 Moody Blue 🧀. Geronimo’s sister Thea, cousin Trap and favourite nephew Benjamin decide they’ve 🧀 Goats 🧀 to lift him out of his 🧀 Off Kilter 🧀 state and after reading an article about the mysterious Eighth Wonder, the Valley of the 🧀 Cheesettes 🧀, they are certain they’ve found a way to repair Geronimo’s 💔 Achy Breaky Heart 💔.

The family wind up on a semi 🧀 Impromptu 🧀 trip to search for this Eighth Wonder. Perhaps if they succeed they will become 🐭 famouse 🐭. Naturally it’s up to the 9 year old to save the day because all of the adults are behaving like 🐭 mouselets 🐭.

Some of the best exclamations in this book include:
🧀 Cheese niblets!
🐀 Rancid Rat Hairs!
🧀 Holey cheese!

This book was first published in 2000 so the presence of a camera that has film that needs to be developed makes sense in that context. Ah, nostalgia. I loved my days working in a Photolab! The stories I could tell you – but won’t because this is a review of a children’s book. 📷 😜

This series is aimed at 🐭 mouselets 🐭 from 5 to 8 years who love to read and those who don’t. With splashes of funky formatted font, funny illustrations that complement the story well and maps of New 🐭 Mouse 🐭 City, 🐭 Mouse 🐭 Island and The 🐀 Rodent’s 🐀 Gazette, there’s plenty to keep the reader 🐭 amoused 🐭. I loved the illustrations and I’d just like to point out that on the cover those are glow in the dark butterflies!! 🦋😃 I’d like to place an order for several hundred of those please.

Overall I enjoyed this book more than The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid, probably because this one had a resolution and didn’t do the always irritating ‘Someone told me it would make a great story so I wrote a book about it, and guess what?! This is that story!’ thing.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Sweet Cherry 🍒 Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

P.S. Apologies for recycling the 🧀 cheesy 🧀 names from my previous review but they worked for this one too. You may now press charges against me for excessive use of emojis and crimes against humour. 😊

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Love is in the air! Geronimo has met the mouse of his dreams but he just can’t play it cool. He needs to do something amazing, something incredible to catch her attention! What better way than by searching for the Eighth Wonder of the World: the mysterious Valley of the Cheeselets? 

Will he return home a legend? And will it all be worth it in the end?

Hopeless Heroes #1: Here Comes Hercules! – Stella Tarakson

Illustrations – Nick Roberts

Here Comes Hercules! is a fun start to a new children’s series called Hopeless Heroes. Including plenty of illustrations by Nick Roberts, we’re introduced to Tim Baker who lives with his mother. Tim is often needed to help out with the housework as his mother is busily working two jobs trying to keep her small family afloat, while actively working on her dream of becoming an author.

One day while dusting an ancient Greek vase he accidentally drops it and it shatters. Unbeknownst to Tim, by breaking the vase he’s also accidentally set Hercules free after he was trapped inside by wicked Hera, the wife of Hercules’ father Zeus. Hercules winds up ‘helping’ Tim with his household chores as only a Hopeless Hero can.

Hercules’ funny attempts to help inevitably end in disaster and Tim’s poor mother thinks Tim is acting out because he’s sick of cleaning. Tim discovers he’s the only person who can see Hercules, which complicates his relationship with his mother, his friendship with Ajay and even with Leo, the bully at school. Hercules is desperate to return to his wife and daughter and Tim is determined to help him, if only they can figure out how.

This chapter book is suitable for younger children who will enjoy Hercules’ bumbling attempts to be helpful. There are some good giggles and great illustrations, along with some accidental education about ancient Greek mythology. Bullying is addressed and I expect this theme will continue in future books. There are also indications the bully is facing family problems.

Tim and his mother are likeable characters who both have room for growth in future books. Tim, while not a fan of housework, wants to help out his mother and is supportive of her dream of becoming an author. Tim’s mother only wants the best for her son and is working hard to support him. I will be interested in reading the next book in the series.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sweet Cherry Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When Tim Baker breaks his mum’s favourite vase, it’s the least of his problems. The Greek hero he’s released is in danger of doing far worse. To the flowers, the rug – Oh, no! Not the kitchen!

Hercules is only trying to be helpful but he’s just hopeless. It’s time to send this dim demigod home before Tim becomes ancient history.

Geronimo Stilton #2: The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid – Geronimo Stilton

Warning: Super Duper 🧀 Cheesy 🧀 Review Alert!

I promise you’re going to want to hit me over the head with something by the end of this review, most likely a massive block of 🧀 cheese 🧀. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!

So, I’ve arrived in the 🧀 Stilton 🧀 universe fashionably late. First published in 2001 and now being rereleased, The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid is the second book in the Geronimo Stilton series.

This illustrated children’s book is a 🧀 Blenda 🧀 adventure and humour. Including maps of New Mouse City, Mouse Island and The Rodent’s Gazette, the illustrations and formatting are really 🧀 Gouda 🧀.

When Geronimo arrives at work one morning he discovers that the founder of The Rodent Gazette, his grandfather William Shortpaws (AKA Cheap Mouse Willy), has gone on a penny pinching bender and fired the employees and sold most of the furniture.

The family business is now going to be exclusively run by the family – Geronimo, cousin Trap, sister Thea, favourite nephew Benjamin, and Cheap Mouse Willy. Geronimo, previously the “big cheese”, is understandably 🧀 Moody Blue 🧀 upon hearing this news. His mood doesn’t improve when he finds out he’s the one who 🧀 Goats 🧀 to do all the work now.

However, the 🧀 Explorateur 🧀 in him is excited when his grandfather tells him his assignment is to travel to Egypt and write a report on the pyramids. By the time Geronimo gets off the shaky flight he’s feeling a bit 🧀 Off Kilter 🧀 but is happy to meet Professor Alrat Spitfur who has an invention to tell Geronimo about. The Professor takes Geronimo on a camel ride to 🧀 La Pyramide 🧀 where Geronimo experiences more than he expected.

With some interesting information about Ancient Egypt your mouselets are going to accidentally learn bits and pieces about the pyramids, mummification, Egyptian gods, hieroglyphics and the curse of Tutankhamen’s tomb.

I enjoyed reading this book but given the age group this series is aimed at, I found the lack of resolution at the end to be off putting. Of course there were other books planned so I’m fine with there being a lead up to the next adventure but for the essential ‘mystery’ of this book being something for “another story” irritated me.

I also have a pet peeve with books that wind up saying something along the lines of, ‘Someone involved in this story told me it would make a great story so I wrote a book about it, and guess what?! This book that you’ve almost finished reading is the book that I wrote about that story!’

If you were to start from scratch and get up to date with the 🧀 Abondance 🧀 of Geronimo Stilton books … taking a deep breath … and the Geronimo Stilton Special Editions, Kingdom of Fantasy, Journey Through Time, Thea Stilton, Thea Stilton Special Editions, Creepella von Cacklefur … another breath … Cavemice, Spacemice, Micekings, Thea Stilton: Mouseford Academy, Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novels and Thea Stilton Graphic Novels, I have calculated that you could probably do it in … brain rattling … about two gazillion shakes of a mouse’s tail. 🧀 Holey Cow! 🧀 And I thought The Baby-Sitters Club series had a lot of spinoffs!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sweet Cherry Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

While I apologise for my 🧀 cheesy 🧀 review (sort of), I did have a lot of fun reading all of the 🧀 PsycheDillic 🧀 names for cheese that exist. If you feel like an 🧀 Impromptu 🧀 lesson in cheese 🧀 Slices of Bliss 🧀 like I did, I recommend you check out cheese.com. They’ve got details of over 1831 varieties of cheese! If you visit, you’ll be in a 🧀 Reverie 🧀. Okay, I’m stopping now. Promise! 😃

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

I’m off to Egypt! I climbed onboard a crabby old camel that would take me across the desert to the Great Cheese Pyramid. There, among mummies and hieroglyphics, I would learn the secret of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient Mouse World …