A Really Fun Read
Rock N Rose by Suzan Holder is an absolutely delightful contemporary novel that warmed my heart and soul.
The central premise is a really intriguing one that really captures the reader’s imagination. It is so well written by Suzan Holder that the reader wonders, could it actually be true? And to be honest, I wanted it to be true!
Rock N Rose feels like a fairy story for grown-ups. The story surrounds Elvis Presley and Graceland as we travel from the Welsh valleys to Memphis. There has always been a bit of a mystery to Graceland, and a terrible tragedy that Elvis died so young and alone. As Suzan Holder says in her novel, it was a defining moment, we all know where we were when we heard the news on 16th August 1977. I still remember the disbelief that the king of rock and roll was dead. It is a moment where I have been frozen in time (along with where I was and how I felt when I heard that Tommy Jansson, a speedway rider, had died on 20th May 1976, and also when Princess Diana died).
The novel is about love, missed chances and new opportunities. There is so much love that radiates from the pages. There is a love that lasted a lifetime, a new love beginning to bud and a love between a grandmother and her granddaughter. Love does not turn off at the point of death. Love lasts as our memories keep us warm.
It is a bittersweet read about missed opportunities as we witness the damage meddling can do. The reader wishes there was a do-over button. How different lives would be.
I loved all the characters. They were well drawn. Likable and realistic. There were some really fun characters who knew how to grab life and really live it. There were characters teetering on the edge of life who needed to seize the day for tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Pilgrimages to Graceland on behalf of those no longer here, offered opportunities to glimpse into the past. It was a different but beautiful bygone era.
The novel is mainly set in the present but with flashbacks to 1960. It is all beautifully and seamlessly done.
Rock N Rose was a really fun read. It sparkles with life and I loved it. I cannot wait to read more by Suzan Holder.
I received a free copy via Net Galley for a blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.
Rock ‘n’ Rose
It’s Now or Never…In the summer of 1960, eighteen-year-old Rose Featherstone took a trip to Memphis that changed her life. Now, Rose confesses to her granddaughter, Daisy, that she returned home with more than just memories all those years ago – she was carrying Elvis Presley’s child!
Daisy is sure the claim can’t be true, and yet, what if it is? When her grandmother passes away soon after her startling revelation and leaves Daisy with a ticket to Memphis, Tennessee, Daisy decides it’s time to discover the truth. She’s always struggled to fit in but this trip might just show her the benefits of being born to stand out and is a moody motorcycle cop called Blue the answer to all her dreams?
Her adventures in Memphis take her behind the famous music gates of Graceland. Pack your Blue Suede Shoes for a rockin’ rom-com.
Author Bio –
Real rock wife Suzan, wife of former Slade frontman Noddy Holder, has written another ‘rock n’ roll rom-com’ to follow her Beatles themed debut ‘Shake It Up, Beverley’.
Journalist and TV producer Suzan once again weaves her love for music into a hilarious and heart-warming story that is uplifting and laugh-out-loud funny.
Suzan says: “I love that my books celebrate music and have been inspired by my own life experience of living in a slightly crazy, rock ‘n’ roll, rom-com world…some of the weirdest and funniest stories in the books really have happened to me!”
Suzan Holder trained as a newspaper journalist and worked on regional and national newspapers before moving into TV. She produced a variety of television news and lifestyle programmes and was executive producer of ITV’s daytime network show ‘Loose Women’. She is a monthly columnist for Cheshire Life Magazine and appears regularly on radio.
Suzan has one son, two step-daughters and two step grand-children. Originally from the West Midlands Suzan now lives with Noddy Holder in Cheshire, they have been together for 32 years.
Social Media Links –
.Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HolderSuzan
GUEST POST – SUZAN HOLDER – Reading Tonic
I LOVE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL!
They say ‘rock n’ roll will never die’ and ‘the old songs are the best’ and looking around at the resurgence of love for both The Beatles and Elvis Presley this year you have to admit both claims are proving truer than ever in 2022.
That’s very lucky for me! I’ve written two rock n’roll themed rom-coms published this year by One More Chapter, Harper Collins so I certainly seem to have my finger on the musical pulse.
My debut novel called ‘Shake It Up, Beverley’ is about an obsessive Beatles fan and my new book ‘Rock ‘n’ Rose’ is about a woman trying to solve a mysterious family connection to Elvis Presley and goes behind the gates of his Graceland home in Memphis.
But I don’t think it’s just the music that flips my heart and blows my mind, there’s another reason Elvis and the Beatles aroused a passion in some of us that will never die… I mean … have you SEEN Elvis clad head to toe in black leather in the 1968 Comeback Special? Never has anyone, male or female, ever looked more beautiful … imho ) As for darkly bearded, intense but playful Paul McCartney in 1969… as writer Caitlin Moran so wittily observed on twitter – why are techno gazillionaires like Elon Musk wasting money on space rockets when they could be developing the technology for 1969 era Macca-style sex-bots for willing consumers? I mean, it’s a fair question.
We live in an era where we can access brilliance and beauty that has gone before. When you stop to think about it, that is a wonderful, amazing, magical thing and many of us give thanks for that every, single day.
While politicians let you down and the cost of living crisis crushes us; as the fall out from a global pandemic rumbles on and the war in Ukraine sends us delirious with worry what have we got we can actually rely on? Rolling Stone Keith Richards once said: “Music is all you can trust.” Wise words Keef and never have those words resonated with me more while the world seems to be spinning out of control. I accept it won’t pay rising bills or bring peace to war-torn nations but music can be uplifting, hopeful and can connect you with a place or a person you love or have loved in a way nothing else can.
So it doesn’t surprise me at all that the release late last year of unseen footage of The Beatles in Peter Jackson’s ‘Get Back’ documentaries made such a huge impact. Beatles fans were reminded why they thought John, Paul, George and Ringo were the very best band in the world and youngsters got to see just what all the fuss has been about. Watching the footage is like hanging out in the recording studio alongside them. Incredible. Not only does music pour out of them like they are possessed, they are funny, sensitive and emotionally mature in ways history would tell you was impossible in men in the late sixties and early seventies.
Similarly the Baz Luhrmann biopic movie of Elvis Presley shows the heart and soul of a man left lost and tortured by the price of his colossal fame. Elvis may not have written his own songs but his amazing ability to channel his emotions into music never left him.
You see, the people who create such music are also my ultimate heroes. They are the ones who help us connect with each other when we sing or dance or put our arms around each other at a gig.
I am a writer, but it’s taken me around 90,000 words to tell each story. A gifted songwriter, however, can tell a story, unleash an emotion and tap into your innermost feelings and desires all in a three minute song with a tune that never leaves you. That’s a skill I am completely in awe of.
Songwriters take the feelings we all feel and put them to words we very rarely have the guts to say out loud. Why do you think so many people have ‘a song’?
When I sat down to write both of my books I wanted to spread some of the magic from the music I love through the pages. I want readers to feel like dancing down the street once they’ve read the book, just like when they’ve seen a brilliant rom-com movie with a killer soundtrack.
The Beatles sang ‘All You Need is Love’ but I believe Love is all we really have … Love and Music.
Guest Post – @biblio.jojo – Suzan Holder
MY ROCK N’ ROLL ROMCOM LIFE
I’ve had some crazy things happen to me in my very own rock n’ roll rom-com life – but landing a book deal with Harper Collins for my rock n’ roll inspired rom-com books is way up there as one of the craziest!
I have been a journalist, TV producer, drama teacher and theatre maker and I’m also Mrs Noddy Holder, married to the former frontman of the band Slade (I told you my life could be Crazeeeeee!)
Yes, you heard that right, I’m the life partner of a bona fide rock musician and all round national treasure. I’m not deluded…he’s not a figment of my imagination. We have been together for more than 30 years and have a grown up son but hearing Noddy strumming his guitar while I’m making coffee never gets old, let me tell you.
Now I am appearing on radio and TV, doing live appearances at book events I am very lucky to have up my sleeve a few strange and peculiar tales to amuse and entertain and not all of them have anything to do with my husband. I’ve been trapped in a lift with the notorious OJ Simpson and ridden an elephant in Africa with Amanda Holden. I’ve also watched my baby vomit all over Jane Asher on live TV…She was very lovely about it I must say.
I have been involved in the media and showbiz world – television, music and theatre from the start of my career way before I met Noddy.
I began working as a newspaper reporter back in the days when hot tempered editors would stub out cigarettes on your copy and throw typewriters the length of the office if they thought you needed motivating. That’s when I really learned to duck. I ended up as the boss of ITV’s Loose Women, bringing in presenters like Coleen Nolan and Carol McGiffin.
As time went on I was also a mother to my son, step-mother to my two daughters and more recently Nana Suzan to Issy and Beau. I was also desperate to write a book and become a published author but despite years of writing articles, news reports and scripts I found the literary world a very hard nut to crack.
However, I am not a quitter. I wrote and re-wrote and sent out my manuscript to agents again and again. Every time I received a polite rejection I found two new people to send it to. It was almost an addiction, I just couldn’t stop. And then finally, wonderfully I got the email I had been waiting YEARS to receive.
My debut novel ‘Shake It Up Beverley’ was published early 2022 by One More Chapter, an imprint of Harper Collins, in digital format and paperback.
‘Shake It Up Beverley’ tells the story of Beatles Bev, a middle-aged Beatles fan who gets herself into a whole heap of trouble when she goes looking for love on the internet. It’s a romantic comedy with a backbeat of great music and it also mines the darkest depths of my horrific dating experiences (before I met my husband!)
My latest book ‘Rock ‘n’ Rose’ is set in Memphis with an Elvis Presley vibe and was completely inspired by a trip I made there when I was 25years old. Some of the best characters in the book were inspired by real people I met on that crazy trip! Including a Russian Elvis impersonator and a hunky motorcycle cop called Blue. There’s a very dramatic and romantic moment in the story when the main character, a young woman called Daisy, is rescued after being left stranded in Mississippi and every word of that episode actually happened to me. It was the most rock ‘n’ roll moment of my life up until that point … but if you want to know what happened – to me and to Daisy – you’ll have to read the book.
ROCK ‘N’ ROSE by SUZAN HOLDER
Book Extract, from Chapter 1, – Brook Cottage Books
A flash of fluorescent yellow made them both gasp as the shop door to Blue Moon Vintage was opened just then by a female police officer wearing a hi-vis vest.
‘Does this belong to you?’ she asked as she led a dishevelled Nana Rose into the shop.
The policewoman appeared weary and only stopped long enough to confirm that Rose did belong to Lilian and Daisy before she disappeared back to more serious police matters. Her powers of deduction had been severely tested as Rose had refused to volunteer any information when she’d been spotted stealing someone’s coffee from a table outside Costa. It was only when the old woman insisted on repeatedly singing the song ‘Blue Moon’ that the enterprising officer remembered the name of the shop around the corner and reached a logical conclusion. Promotion to CID was surely just a matter of time.
Once the policewoman had gone, Rose stood smiling sweetly at her daughter and granddaughter as if butter wouldn’t melt. Lilian chose that moment to ask the least important question.
‘Why were you stealing someone’s coffee? You don’t even like coffee?’
Rose shrugged. ‘Yes, as the saying goes, I’m a cup of tea in a world of skinny lattes.’
Lilian goggled at the lucidity of the old lady’s response and simply turned and headed to carry out the one activity guaranteed to bring a semblance of normality to any given situation. She put the kettle on.
Daisy guided Rose into the changing cubicle, sat her on a high-backed chair and looked for something more suitable for her to wear.
‘Here, Nana, try this.’
She handed her a pale-blue twinset in soft cashmere and Rose stroked the fluffy fabric with her cold hands.
‘What were you up to, Nana? You know you really can’t wander around the town like this. You’re not properly dressed or anything?’
Daisy tried to keep her tone light, but her voice caught in her throat as she watched Rose pluck at the pearl buttons on the cardigan. Seeing her nana like this was excruciating, there was no denying something was very, very wrong. Rose was looking at her with such a strange expression on her face, as though she was trying really hard to remember something. The old lady opened her mouth to speak but then closed it again and shook her head as though whatever it was had disappeared from her mind, again.
Daisy’s attention was suddenly caught by the sight of what looked like a massive wound on Rose’s bare upper arm.
‘Oh, Nana, what have you done?’
Rose followed Daisy’s gaze and then bizarrely started to chuckle. She looked up with a fresh light in her eyes as though she now knew exactly what she wanted to say. She put a finger to her lips.
‘Shhhh,’ she said, her eyes darting towards the back room where Lilian was still making tea. ‘Promise me you won’t tell your mother?’
Daisy made no such promise but Rose carried on anyway.
‘I’ve kept this a secret for years. I don’t know how I’ve done it but once you keep a secret for so long…’
She tailed off as she turned her body and stuck out her arm so that Daisy could get a better look. There on the freckled skin at the top of Nana Rose’s wrinkled skinny arm was the last thing Daisy expected to see, a rather faded but still-beautiful tattoo of a blood-red rose.
Daisy stood in open-mouthed shock as she stared at the tattoo on her grandmother’s arm. She barely noticed Lilian pull back the velvet curtain of the changing cubicle and take in the scene with one cursory glance.
‘Oh for heaven’s sake, cover that up!’
Daisy whipped her head towards her mother, ‘You knew about this? You knew she had a… tattoo?’
‘Of course I knew, but I made her promise not to show it to you in case it gave you any more silly ideas.’ Lilian put down the mug of tea and deftly pulled the blue cardigan sleeve over her mother’s skinny shoulder. Her careful actions were in marked contrast to the coldness in her tone.
Nana Rose reached out and patted Lilian’s hand. ‘There’s something you don’t know though, my girl.’
Lilian remained brusque, but the concern in her voice for her mother was beginning to break through. ‘I expect there are many things I don’t know, but let’s see about getting you home, shall we? I think we ought to call the doctor.’
Lilian and Daisy were taken aback as Rose raised her voice, her whole body now clenched and taut.
‘I have to tell you… before… too late.’
‘What is it, Nana? You’ve not had your belly button pierced as well, have you?’
If in doubt, make a joke. It was Daisy’s default setting, but Lilian shot her a look that said, ‘Not now’. Rose took no notice of Daisy’s lame attempt at comedy anyway.
‘It’s… your father…’
Now it was Lilian’s turn to look confused.
Daisy could not imagine where this was going. Her mother didn’t have a father, she didn’t have a grandfather. Rose had been a single mother in the Sixties and no one had ever wanted to talk very much about all that.
‘His name…’ Rose left a dramatic pause that Lilian found completely maddening.
‘You have never told me my father’s name… never once in my whole life…’
Daisy flapped her hand towards her agitated mother. ‘Let her finish.’
Rose looked steadily at them both; she suddenly seemed composed.
‘His name…’ She took a steadying breath in and out before continuing. ‘… was Elvis Presley.’