Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness by Mary Forsberg Weiland

Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness by Mary Forsberg Weiland
Publisher: It Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Contemporary, Recent Historical
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

On the surface Mary Weiland had a fairy tale life. She was a successful model married to a successful rock star—Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland—and a world traveler with a home and two beautiful children. But it wasn’t until her rampage in a Los Angeles hotel room and the resulting media frenzy that the world got a glimpse into Mary’s inner turmoil, self-destructive behavior, bipolar disorder, and drug abuse.

In Fall to Pieces, she reveals the extreme highs and lows of her life, the volatility of which long hinted at her bipolar disorder. Weiland tells her story with refreshing candor, unflinching detail, and more than a little humor. Reminiscent of celebrity memoirs from Tatum O’Neill, Brooke Shields and Valerie Bertinelli, Weiland offers a window into the world of modeling and rock’n’roll celebrity while at the same time providing deep insights into a serious and misunderstood mental illness.

Co-written with veteran journalist Larkin Warren, Fall to Pieces is a blistering, eye-opening memoir of Hollywood meltdown.

Together, they’re a hot mess, but everyone wants the burn.

I stumbled across this book by accident, but it’s no accident I read it. I couldn’t put it down. Weiland’s story captivated me with her sadness and utter confusion. I could feel the way she did and understood both her and her husband better.

Mary Forsberg Weiland never set out to rule the wold. She wanted to conquer her little piece. Unfortunately, it took a lot of drugs, pain and self-destruction to realize the issues were bigger than she could handle alone. I admit I sobbed for her at times. Reading the ways she struggled and managed to right herself was darn fascinating and heartbreaking. Putting her together with her then-husband, Scott Weiland (of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver) was an oil and water situation.They loved each other, but they were toxic, too.

If you’re looking for something that’s sad, but beautiful, toxic, but fascinating, then this is the book for you.

The Bunny Years: The Surprising Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs – The Women Who Worked as Bunnies, and Where They Are Now by Kathryn Leigh Scott

The Bunny Years: The Surprising Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs – The Women Who Worked as Bunnies, and Where They Are Now by Kathryn Leigh Scott
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea


The 1960s were a time of change in America, an era when safely guarded innocence gave way to explosive social revolution. For Kathryn Leigh Scott, or Bunny Kay as she was known in the New York City Playboy Club, and the more than 250 former Bunnies she interviewed for this book, donning satin ears and a fuzzy cottontail was an act of liberation—a chance to bridge the gap between being girls and becoming women, to earn more money than their own mothers ever fathomed, and to find their way in a world that would never be the same. Lauren Hutton was a Bunny. Deborah Harry was too. Bunnies went on to become doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, real estate tycoons, nurses, scientists, entrepreneurs, and teachers.

Called “a smart oral history” by Esquire and “entertaining” by Entertainment Weekly, The Bunny Years goes beyond Gloria Steinem’s infamous magazine exposé, “A Bunny’s Tale,” beyond detailed instructions for perfecting the “Bunny Dip” and providing Keyholders with “efficient, friendly, personalized service,” to explore, in the words of the remarkable women themselves, what it really meant to be a Bunny.

There’s so much more to the bunnies than just ears and a fluffy tail.

I picked up this book because I wanted to know more about the actual lives of the Playboy Bunnies. Not the women in the magazine, but the women in the clubs. This book tells just that and a bit more. There are pieces on each of the clubs and resorts, but most about the women who worked there.

As biographies and anecdotes about the women, the book hits the mark. This is a sneak peek into their world. What it was like to wait tables there, what it was like to get older while serving and some of the not so fun things that took place. This book, while interesting, seemed to do a bit of name dropping in places. Yes, a lot of famous people did time as bunnies, but it almost seemed like the book traded on that, rather than the real situations the women dealt with.

Still, it’s an interesting window into their lives and the way the supernova of the Playboy brand exploded. It’s fascinating and somewhat scary, but I’m glad I read it. Give this book a try.

32 Days – A Memoir of Love and Death by Deborah Sabin

32 Days – A Memoir of Love and Death by Deborah Sabin
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating 5 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Mitch and Debbi were beshert. Soulmates. She knew it from the first day of law school. He came to the same conclusion just a few months later. From that day on, they were rarely apart. Debbi made one, five, and ten-year plans for their future. Mitch always replied, “Yeah. Maybe someday.” Someday came too soon.

A terrible freak accident put Mitchell in a hospital remote from home, with a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Alone in the ICU with her husband, away from her children and family, Deborah struggled to manage their days and find a way to keep their love and their marriage alive. Every night, she wrote him a note of news, hope, and love. But, thirty-two days were all they had. Mitch died and Debbi was left with two small children. With the help of family and friends, she struggled to make a life for three seem as good as the life they had when they were a family of four. All traces of her time in the hospital with Mitchell were stored in the “sad” box, stuffed high on a shelf in the back of the closet.

Twenty-five years later, the notes resurfaced in an unlikely space. Deborah knew it was time to share the letters with family, friends, and the world. 32 Days is the story of a wonderful man, taken from this world much too soon. A husband, father, son, brother, friend, lawyer and advocate, and the courageous battle he fought to stay alive. Until someday. Mitchell and Deborah’s story is one of love that transcends time and space. Of faith that grows stronger even in the face of the unimaginable. Of the healing strength given by family and friends. Of hope that life will go on. Of someday.

Two people, one love and one future.

I knew when I picked up this book I’d have moments of levity, but that I’d cry, too, and I did. Deborah Sabin, aka the author Morgan Malone, writes about the thirty-two days in which her life changed. Her husband, her beloved Mitch, was hurt in an accident and this is the story of what happened over the course of those thirty-two days.

The writing moves along at a great clip, despite the not so fun topic. I felt exactly the way she did when writing it—her heart breaking, her soul dimming just a bit, but the fight growing stronger in her. Oh and her love for Mitch. I can’t say I’m glad the author went through this, but I’m honored that she was willing to share her story. Share her heartbreak. It resonates on every page.

If you’re ever loved someone and lost them, then this is a book that will speak to you. If you’ve had a soulmate who was gone too soon, then I recommend this book. It’s a keeper.

The Vegas Diaries: Romance, Rolling the Dice, and the Road to Reinvention by Holly Madison

The Vegas Diaries: Romance, Rolling the Dice, and the Road to Reinvention by Holly Madison
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Recent Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When you’ve come out the other side of the bizarre, twisted world of the Playboy mansion, where do you land? If you’re Holly Madison . . . there’s no place like Las Vegas!

After making the sudden decision to reclaim her life, Holly broke free from the sheltered, deceptive confines of the mansion (which meant exiting a hit television show) and was determined to start her life over . . . from scratch. Without the security of a job or relationship, she set out to reinvent herself on no one’s terms but her own.

Deciding to roll the dice and begin again in the glamorous and dreamlike city of Las Vegas, Holly quickly realized that while she may have left her past in the rearview mirror, the labels and stereotypes that came from it weren’t so quick to leave her. With a fierce commitment to take charge of her own narrative, Holly dives headfirst into a journey of self-discovery. After a whirlwind stint on Dancing with the Stars, she snags the coveted lead role in the Strip’s hottest new burlesque spectacular and lands a reality series spotlighting her new life as a single woman.

If her own television show and dream job as a showgirl weren’t enough to keep her busy, Holly explores the decadent, exclusive inner-world of Sin City, navigating it’s social and dating scene with humor and heart. When it comes to romance, she is met with an eclectic cast of characters, from fame hounds to long distance loves to the occasional celebrity and more than one tabloid mishap. In this reflective, heartwarming memoir, Holly learns that each dating disaster holds an important, and in some cases difficult to face, lesson about herself.

The Vegas Diaries is a comedy of errors, set against the glitz and glamour of the dazzling Vegas strip. Through the wild and crazy experiences on one young woman’s quest to “have it all,” Holly faces her fears, anxieties, and insecurities to discover that her journey to self-sufficiency is also her path to healing. Letting go of trying to prove herself to others, Holly finally gains the courage to confront her past-and in the process finds the life and love she deserves.

This girl gets knocked down, but she gets up again and keeps trying. Lesson to us all.

I liked Holly Madison’s first book and when I saw this one, I had to read it, too. I’m glad I did. She’s been through a lot, and it shows in this book. I could also get a feel for her sense of isolation and need to find herself. Her life seems to be all glitter and fantasy, but this book shows it’s not that all the time. Sure, she’s in fantastic situations, but there is always a grey side to the glitter. I liked how the author shows both sides and doesn’t mince words. She can’t understand why she seems to lose at love until she learns to love herself. It’s a powerful thing.

I wish it’d been more of a diary and less of reading conversations between her and her friends, but I can’t complain. The story kept my attention and made me want to read more. I wanted to see her finally find her happy.

If you’re looking for a somewhat fluffy Hollywood read, then this might be the one for you. It’s good for an afternoon read and will make you root for her all the more. Give it a try.

Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today by Valerie Bertinelli

Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today by Valerie Bertinelli
Publisher: Harvest
Genre: Contemporary, Recent Historical, Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Behind the curtain of her happy on-screen persona, Valerie Bertinelli’s life has been no easy ride, especially when it comes to her own self-image and self-worth. She waged a war against herself for years, learning to equate her value to her appearance as a child star on One Day at a Time and punishing herself in order to fit into the unachievable Hollywood mold. She struggled to make her marriage to Eddie Van Halen — the true love of her life — work, despite all the rifts the rock-star lifestyle created between them. She then watched her son follow in his father’s footsteps, right up onto the stage of Van Halen concerts, and begin his own music career. And like so many women, she cared for her parents as their health declined and saw the roles of parent and child reverse. Through mourning the loss of her parents, discovering more about her family’s past, and realizing how short life really is when she and her son lost Eddie, Valerie finally said, “Enough already!” to a lifelong battle with the scale and found a new path forward to joy and connection. Despite hardships and the pressures of the media industry to be something she’s not, Valerie is, at last, accepting herself: she knows who she is, has discovered her self-worth, and has learned how to prioritize her health and happiness over her weight. With an intimate look into her insecurities, heartbreaks, losses, triumphs, and revelations, Enough Already is the story of Valerie’s sometimes humorous, sometimes raw, but always honest journey to love herself and find joy in the everyday, in family, and in the food and memories we share.

One of America’s Sweethearts and a very real person all in one.

I picked this book up from a recommendation from a friend and I’m glad I did. The writing left a little to be desired, but I have to say this read a lot like it was written by a friend. Like friends talking to each other. The author has fears, issues and desires that are like all of us. She just happens to be in the public eye.

I liked that the author talks about her life, but this isn’t a linear biography. It’s not meant to be. It’s how she’s coming to terms with being herself. With accepting herself. In spots, it feels repetitive, but honestly, I got it. She’s trying convince herself that it’s okay to be imperfect. Lots of us need that pep talk. We need to hear we’re not perfect and that’s okay. This was her journey to making herself feel okay.

It’s not a deep read, but I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting exactly what I got–her journey and how she’s dealing. I’m glad I read it and will look for more from this author.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison

Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Recent Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The real, untold, and unvarnished story of life inside the legendary Playboy Mansion—and the man who holds the key—from the woman who was Hef’s #1 girlfriend and star of The Girls Next Door.

A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s #1 girlfriend. But like Alice in Wonderland after she plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairytale life inside the Playboy Mansion—including A-list celebrity parties and her own #1-rated television show—quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing bunnies. Losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future, Holly found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide.

But instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it.

In this shockingly candid and surprisingly moving memoir, this thoughtful and introspective woman opens up about life inside the Mansion, the drugs, the sex and the infamous parties, as well as what her relationships with her Girls Next Door co-stars, Bridget and Kendra were really like. Holly talks candidly about a subsequent abusive relationship, her own successful television series, and the hard work of healing, including her turn on Dancing with the Stars. A cautionary tale and a celebration of personal empowerment, Down the Rabbit Hole reminds us of the importance of fighting for our dreams—and finding the life we deserve.

Exotic and sad, but touching, too.

I picked this book up because it was recommended. Talk about a bird in a gilded cage. Holly Madison lived through a lot in her life and it’s impressive she’s made it to the other side.

The writing is good. It reads like being told a story by a friend. There are cautionary tales within the book. Nothing is as impressive on the outside if it’s not on the inside. The Playboy mansion looks fantastic, but from her point of view, it sure seemed more like a prison. I have to admit this story is from her view, but who else’s should it be from? It’s her book. She’s lived a lot in her short years and it was refreshing to see her come out on the other side.

The author keeps from getting too salacious, but also leaves tidbits of her personal life in the story. It’s not all roses and she doesn’t mince words, but that makes it a good read. She’s honest.

If you’re looking for a tell-all about the mansion, then this might fit the bill. Might not. If you’re looking for a Cinderella story that is interesting and can be taken as just that, then this might be the book for you. Give it a read.

Love, Pamela by Pamela Anderson

Love, Pamela by Pamela Anderson
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Genre: Contemporary, Autobiography, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Poetry
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The actress, activist, and once infamous Playboy Playmate reclaims the narrative of her life in a memoir that defies expectation in both content and approach, blending searing prose with snippets of original poetry.

In this honest, layered and unforgettable book that alternates between storytelling and her own poetry, Pamela Anderson breaks the mold of the celebrity memoir while taking back the tale that has been crafted about her.

Her blond bombshell image was ubiquitous in the 1990s. Discovered in the stands of a football game, she was immediately rocket launched into fame, becoming Playboy’s favorite cover girl and an emblem of Hollywood glamour and sexuality. But what happens when you lose grip on your own life—and the image the notoriety machine creates for you is not who you really are?

Growing up on Vancouver Island, the daughter of young, wild, and unprepared parents, Pamela Anderson’s childhood was not easy, but it allowed her to create her own world—surrounded by nature and imaginary friends. When she overcame her deep shyness and grew into herself, she fell into a life on the cover of magazines, the beaches of Malibu, the sets of movies and talk shows, the arms of rockstars, the coveted scene at the Playboy Mansion. And as her star rose, she found herself tabloid fodder, at the height of an era when paparazzi tactics were bent on capturing a celebrity’s most intimate, and sometimes weakest moments. This is when Pamela Anderson lost control of her own narrative, hurt by the media and fearful of the public’s perception of who she was…and who she wasn’t.

Fighting back with a sense of grace, fueled by a love of art and literature, and driven by a devotion to her children and the causes she cares about most, Pamela Anderson has now gone back to the island where she grew up, after a memorable run starring as Roxie in Chicago on Broadway, reclaiming her free spirit but also standing firm as a strong, creative, confident woman.

She’s self-possessed and shy, but man, she’s a force.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to get when I picked up this book. I wasn’t expecting the poetry, which is nice, or the blatant honesty. Anderson doesn’t hold back. Not one bit. She tells it like she saw it and she’s seen a lot.

Pamela Anderson gets dismissed because of being a body or being Mrs. Tommy Lee, but there’s a lot more to her. She’s a staunch advocate for animals, she’s against animal cruelty (I will warn there is a story about kittens that will break anyone who has an affection for animals.), and she’s accomplished. She knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it. But she’s also fragile. She’s been through a lot. Being that ‘body’ she’s had to deal with invasiveness and people thinking she owes them. I liked her candor and ability to laugh at herself while being serious.

There aren’t many big revelations in this book, but it’s a solid memoir and worth the read.

If you’re looking for a Hollywood memoir full of heart and passion, then this might be the book for you. Check it out!

Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop by Frankie Manning and Cynthia Millman

Frankie Manning: Ambassador of Lindy Hop by Frankie Manning and Cynthia Millman
Publisher: Temple University Press
Genre: Historical, Contemporary, Non-Fiction, Biography, Memoir
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In the early days of swing dancing, Frankie Manning stood out for his moves and innovative routines; he introduced the ‘air step’ in the Lindy Hop, a dance that took the U.S. and then the world by storm. In this fascinating autobiography, choreographer and Tony Award winner (Black and Blue) Manning recalls how his first years of dancing as a teenager at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom led to his becoming chief choreographer and a lead dancer for ‘Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers,’ a group that appeared on Broadway, in Hollywood musicals and on stages around the globe. Manning brings the Swing Era vividly back to life with his recollections of the crowded ballrooms and of Lindy Hoppers trying to outdo each other in spectacular performances.

Frankie Manning might not have been a total pioneer in the world of dance, but he’s right up there with the greats.

Now you might be wondering why I’d say he’s not a total pioneer. You might wonder who Frankie Manning is. Valid questions. Unless you’ve done any studying of jazz dance, you might not know this dancer, but you should.

Frankie Manning came of age in the swing era. He talks about going from ballroom to ballroom, club to club, learning how to dance. I liked this book because there are parts where he discusses dance and how he got as skilled at swing dancing, but also his simple love of dance. He’s done other things, but he sincerely loves dance, and it shows. I also liked that the book had other sections that discussed what the various dances were/are and how they evolved. That was so neat because I had no idea what some of them even looked like. Now I know.

Manning isn’t a perfect guy, but he loves dance and that shines through every page of the book. He not only talks about the heady swing days, but also his life after and how he came to teach.

It’s a fascinating look at swing dancing, the Lindy Hoppers and more. Grab a copy today!

Coming Up For Air by Tom Daley

Coming Up For Air by Tom Daley
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Genre: Non-Fiction, Contemporary, Memoir
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A deeply personal and inspiring memoir from the celebrated Olympic gold medal diver and LGBTQ+ advocate

Tom Daley is one of the most beloved athletes of our time, having competed as a diver in four Olympics, garnering medals and finally, in 2021 in Tokyo, winning gold. But few people know the realities of his life beyond the pool—his struggles, his secret triumphs and the mindset he needed to cultivate to become a champion.

In this deeply personal book, Tom explores the experiences that have shaped him and the qualities that brought him success and joy—from the resilience he developed competing at a world-class level, to the courage he discovered while reclaiming the narrative around his sexuality, to the perspective that family life has brought him.

Inspiring, candid and compulsively readable, Coming Up for Air offers an intimate window into the life and mindset of an athlete and advocate who has left an indelible imprint on sports.

A diver, a career and a long journey.

Tom Daley is well known for his time in the pool. He’s a professional diver and he’s competed at the highest levels. If you watched him in London in 2012, then there was some fantastic diving. This book is about that, but it’s also about him as a person. This isn’t a run-of-the-mill autobiography. It’s almost like a conversation with friends and a self-therapy session. The writing flows well, again like a conversation among friends, and kept me engaged throughout.

Daley talks about his struggles in the pool. It’s not always great and sometimes it’s bad. He talks about how he got through those times and honestly, it was helpful to see how he dealt with his struggles. He’s relatable. I liked learning about his journey to meeting and marrying his husband as well as his struggles in and out of the pool. Not because I wanted to see his faults, but it humanized him. He talks about his father being not the average sport parent, but just being a parent. When he’d struggle, his father wasn’t pushing him to the point of being terrible, but rather he pushed by not pushing. He let his son figure things out on his own. Reading about his father’s struggle with cancer and passing added a dimension to the story and again humanized them all.

If you’re looking for a sweet, funny at times, sad at times, but wholly engrossing, then this might be the book for you.

Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands by Linda Ronstadt and Lawrence Downs, Bill Steen

Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands by Linda Ronstadt and Lawrence Downs, Bill Steen (photographer)
Publisher: Heyday
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel, Memoir, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Linda Ronstadt takes readers on a journey to the place her soul calls home, the Sonoran Desert, in this candid new memoir.

In Feels Like Home, Grammy award-winning singer Linda Ronstadt effortlessly evokes the magical panorama of the high desert, a landscape etched by sunlight and carved by wind, offering a personal tour built around meals and memories of the place where she came of age. Growing up the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and a descendant of Spanish settlers near northern Sonora, Ronstadt’s intimate new memoir celebrates the marvelous flavors and indomitable people on both sides of what was once a porous border whose denizens were happy to exchange recipes and gather around campfires to sing the ballads that shaped Ronstadt’s musical heritage. Following her bestselling musical memoir, Simple Dreams, this book seamlessly braids together Ronstadt’s recollections of people and their passions in a region little understood in the rest of the United States. This road trip through the desert, written in collaboration with former New York Times writer Lawrence Downes and illustrated throughout with beautiful photographs by Bill Steen, features recipes for traditional Sonoran dishes and a bevy of revelations for Ronstadt’s admirers. If this book were a radio signal, you might first pick it up on an Arizona highway, well south of Phoenix, coming into the glow of Ronstadt’s hometown of Tucson. It would be playing something old and Mexican, from a time when the border was a place not of peril but of possibility.

A picture painted in photos, words and song.

I picked this book up because when I flipped through the pages, the vistas are simply breathtaking. I’ve never been to Arizona and haven’t seen the Sonora, but I want to. If it’s anything as pretty as the photos, then I want to be there.

This is the place Linda Ronstadt grew up. She was surrounded by her American and Mexican roots. To say she’s steeped in both cultures is an understatement. She writes eloquently and it felt like I was really there. The recipes included are fascinating and while I’ll have to order some of the ingredients online (we don’t have some of the specialties around my neck of the woods), I can’t wait to try to make them. I loved every page.

I will say there is a small bit that gets a tad political. Keep in mind, Ronstadt is writing from her own perspective and how she’s been affected by what she’s writing about. I won’t give away spoilers, but the politics are there. They didn’t take anything away from the story for me because it’s part of who she is and part of the culture down there. She’s writing from experience. It might not be for some and that’s okay, but don’t not read this book because of that. You’ll be missing out.

If you’ve ever wondered what this part of the country looks like, tastes like and feels like, then pick this book up and give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.