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.

A Lesson in Woo-Woo and Murder by David Unger, PhD

A Lesson in Woo-Woo and Murder by David Unger, PhD
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Recent Historical (1985), Cozy Mystery
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

David’s chakras are stimulated and he takes a skeptical step into the unknown when he’s asked for support at the Santa Monica Whole Life Expo – bad juju is coming, and positive therapeutic auras are required.

Murder soon spoils the cosmic karma, and with the posse on hand to spice up the mystic mix, David’s sleuthing leads him to places he’s never been before, and most likely won’t return to.

But David is distracted – Nova, the Love Doctor, puts the “oo” in his personal woo-woo, and when a psychic foretells of romance in his future, he all but enters a different dimension.

David’s special brand of voodoo-therapy-magic has never been more at home, but can he overcome his super Nova distraction for long enough to unmask the killer before anyone else gets hurt?

This is a clever way to present a murder mystery…with a bit of the paranormal, or rather, paranormal practitioners. Dave is a psychologist at an event with booths and people featuring such things as tarot readings, psychics, and tantric sex. While there, someone is murdered and then someone else loses their life.

Dave wants to figure out who the guilty party is. He is friendly with the others at this convention and follows people in order to see what they are up to. As this is going on, there is a romantic subplot, kind of. He’s interested in a woman in this group.

Dave talks to these believers with respect, but he doesn’t really believe himself. This gives the conversations between him and the others a slightly humorous feel. Is he being sarcastic after all? It’s set in the 1980s. Perhaps, it could have used more emphasis on this time because really, it could have been modern day.

It’s a quirky tale that will have readers wondering who did the evil deed. Why not follow along and try to figure out the case for yourself?

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Time-Travel, Contemporary, Recent Historical
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

What if you could take a vacation to your past?

With her celebrated humor, insight, and heart, beloved New York Times bestseller Emma Straub offers her own twist on traditional time travel tropes and a different kind of love story.

On the eve of her fortieth birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, and her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning, she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her sixteenth birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush—it’s her dad, the vital, charming, forty-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?

Emma is forty but gets to be sixteen again. Now’s the time to change some things. On her fortieth birthday, Emma wakes up in the home of her single father, and she’s a lot younger. So is he. She has some decisions to make.

Emma interacts with her teenage friends and boyfriends and alters history. Then she goes back to her present and sees the differences. In many ways, her life is better, but still, something is wrong.

Also, in her present, her dad is dying. Can she change this? She is going to go back and try.

Probably the best feature of this book is the relationship between Emma and her dad. He’s an author, and he’s doing the best he can to be a great dad. He and Emma are close. There are many touching father-daughter moments in this book.

Sam, Emma’s best friend, makes for a good sounding-board as Emma opens up to her and tells her what’s really going on. Their relationship is well-developed too.

Other characters come into play. Their importance lies in how they make Emma ponder things and make changes. She comes to realizations along the way.

The time travel aspect is clever, and one doesn’t know quite what to expect. This is a fun book more about relationships than anything.

All Rise: The Story of Ketanji Brown Jackson by Carole Boston Weatherford

All Rise: The Story of Ketanji Brown Jackson by Carole Boston Weatherford
Publisher: Random House Kids
Genre: Non-Fiction, Contemporary, Recent Historical, Childrens (6+ yrs)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court, is an inspiration and role model to children of all ages. Award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford tells her story of perseverance, dignity, and honor in this uplifting picture book biography filled with colorful and dynamic illustrations from Ashley Evans.

Whatever she did, wherever she was, Ketanji Brown Jackson rose to the top.

From the time their daughter was born, Ketanji Brown’s parents taught her that if she worked hard and believed in herself, she could do anything. As a child, Ketanji focused on her studies and excelled, eventually graduating from Harvard Law School.

Years later, in 2016, when she was a federal judge, a seat opened on the United States Supreme Court. In a letter to then-President Barack Obama, Leila Jackson made a case for her mother—Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Although the timing didn’t work out then, it did in 2022, when President Joe Biden nominated her. At her confirmation, Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black female Supreme Court justice in the United States.

Lyrical text by renowned author Carole Boston Weatherford and evocative illustrations by Ashley Evans combine to make this an inspirational and timely read.

What a great person and what a wonderful biography for kids.

I picked up this book because I wanted to know more about Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and this book was wonderful for letting me learn about her. There is a lot of information about Brown Jackson, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s told in a bit of a sing-song manner that’s good for early readers to pick up on. There’s a nice cadence to it. The illustrations add to the story and show how Brown Jackson was able to rise to the highest court in the United States. I liked learning about her and how she managed to overcome the obstacles in her life.

If you’re looking for a book that’s informative and uplifting, then this is the book for you.

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.

Capitol Secrets by Maureen Dean

Capitol Secrets by Maureen Dean
Publisher: Putnam
Genre: Recent Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Laura Christen aspires to become the first female speaker of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill. She and her beautiful daughter, Catsy, are in for a rough sprint. Has Laura’s past been impeccable and golden? Or are some long buried secrets about to unfold?

Lusty, dangerous and intoxicating.

I have to admit I picked up this book because I’d been watching a documentary on John Dean, Maureen Dean’s husband, and found out she was an author. I wanted to know more about what she’d written, so I looked her up at the library. This is one of the three books I found. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get when I started reading it. Could be good. Could be bad. But why not try it?

Man, oh, man. I was blown away. This is a tawdry, intoxicating thriller of a story. It’s evident that the author moved and shook in the circles written about in this book because it hits rather closet to the bone. I have to mention this is a political thriller, but it’s not so much focused around politics and picking a side. It’s about a woman trying to be speaker, the powers that be trying to keep her from it, her past getting in the way and a whole lot more. Politics are really a sidebar.

Laura Christen wants to be speaker, but she’s made some interesting deals in the past and has some skeletons in her closet. What politician doesn’t? I liked the intrigue and thriller aspect of this story. There are tawdry bits, but I expected that and it only enhanced the story. There’s a lot of bargaining, wheeling and dealing and subterfuge in this world and the author really showed that.

This was an unexpected story that I loved. I will be reading more by this author. I suggest you do, too. Discover this hidden thriller gem.


Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir by Colton Haynes

Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir by Colton Haynes
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Recent Historical, Contemporary, Non-Fiction, LGBTQ
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A brutally honest and moving memoir of lust, abuse, addiction, stardom, and redemption from Arrow and Teen Wolf actor Colton Haynes.

Four years ago, Colton Haynes woke up in a hospital. He’d had two seizures, lost the sight in one eye, almost ruptured a kidney, and been put on an involuntary psychiatry hold. Not yet thirty, he knew he had to take stock of his life and make some serious changes if he wanted to see his next birthday.

As he worked towards sobriety, Haynes allowed himself to become vulnerable for the first time in years and with that, discovered profound self-awareness. He had millions of social media followers who constantly told him they loved him. But what would they think if they knew his true story? If they knew where he came from and the things he had done?

Now, Colton bravely pulls back the curtain on his life and career, revealing the incredible highs and devastating lows. From his unorthodox childhood in a small Kansas town, to coming to terms with his sexuality, he keeps nothing back.

By sixteen, he had been signed by the world’s top modeling agency and his face appeared on billboards. But he was still a broke, lonely, confused teenager, surrounded by people telling him he could be a star as long as he never let anyone see his true self. As his career in television took off, the stress of wearing so many masks and trying to please so many different people turned his use of drugs and alcohol into full-blown addiction.

A lyrical and intimate confession, apology, and cautionary tale, Miss Memory Lane is an unforgettable story of dreams deferred and dreams fulfilled; of a family torn apart and rebuilt; and of a man stepping into the light as no one but himself.

At times, this is a run-of-the-mill autobiography, but at others, it’s heart-rendering and poetic.

I’ve never seen Colton Haynes on television. I guess I don’t watch the shows he’s been on and that’s okay. I didn’t pick this book up because of the star quality. I wanted an autobiography that would make me think and feel. This is one of those books. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t agree with everything that happened and there were times I cringed, but that’s life. It’s not always perfect or sweet. People can be mean to each other, can use each other and it’s up to those people to pick themselves up afterward.

Colton Haynes is a mess, it’s true. He grew up in a bad situation, was treated awfully and went into a profession that tends to chew people up and spit them out. Yet, he’s still here. There are moments of gut-wrenching seriousness and some of humor. I hated the way the author was treated, but I can see how it made him the man who wrote the book today. It made him stronger and appreciate what he has. At least that’s how it seemed in the book.

If you’re looking for something lurid, then this might be it. There’s underage sex, abuse and the like. It’s not an easy read. But if you’re looking for something to make you think and realize your life isn’t so bad, then this might be the one to read. Check it out.

Touch the Wind by Janet Dailey

Touch the Wind by Janet Dailey
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Recent Historical, Romance, Action/Adventure
Rating: 2 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

All her life, beautiful Sheila got what she wanted. Now she yearned for the raw passion of a man beyond her reach, a violent, mysterious outlaw whose followers adored him. A lion of a man who held her for ransom—a man who would trade her for a fortune in gold. But Sheila wanted only him—with all the reckless longing of her body and soul.

Janet Dailey is a word weaver and master storyteller.

This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Janet Dailey and won’t be the last. I’ve loved many of her books. This one is a fantastic story, with sweeping narratives and moves along at a great pace. The writing is good, and I didn’t want to put it down.

That’s not to say it was my favorite book. There are certainly triggers in this book. I must say I liked Sheila and seeing her humanized. At the beginning of the book, she’s a bit of an ice princess, but also yearning so much for something she’ll take anything to get it. She was a bit one-dimensional, and I liked seeing her grow. That also said, I didn’t care for the hero or the way she was treated. There are scenes of abuse, scenes of violence and I never quite got the connection between the hero and heroine. She was better off with him in some ways than her husband, but in other ways…I wasn’t so sure. I wasn’t a fan of the hero, that’s all.

I have to also add this is a book from 1979. It reads like a book of that era–it’s a bodice ripper and there is certainly an air of almost toxic masculinity. Keep that in mind while reading. It’s meant to be over the top, hyper masculine and raw. To some, this might be a bad thing, but others this might be the fantasy type of hero they want to read about.

If you’re looking for something of that era, something hot and with a touch of romance, then this might be the one for you.