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The Fame Game (2012)

Lauren Conrad is back with a spin-off from her L.A. Candy series. While there are some new faces and new twists, readers will recognise the main character, Madison, and her sidekick, Gaby, straightaway. However, the newbies include an extremely talented but struggling musician from Ohio named Kate, and a celebuspawn named Carmen. Between the four of them, there is enough drama to go around but reality TV producer Trevor Lord wants to create some drama of his own - and he doesn't care who gets hurt in the process. While Kate has met a great guy, Trevor wants it to look like Carmen is dating him, not Kate, and Madison's extremely dysfunctional family isn't off-limits either. The more drama that producers create, the better the ratings will be. But what about the girls' lives? Will they be able to withstand playing The Fame Game with a clever and manipulative producer such as Trevor? This is another great celebrity-related story but it seems a little bit too similar to the prior series. That being said, fans of reality TV (where nothing is really real) will get a thrill out of reading what really goes on behind the scenes - and coming from a reality TV veteran like Conrad, most likely what you're reading isn't too far from the truth. (AS)

Sugar and Spice (2010)

Jane, Scarlett and the rest of the LA Candy cast are back for a second season. Jane, who is LA Candy's main star, has decided to swear off boys for a while, but that proves very hard to do when her old high school boyfriend, Caleb, reappears and her crush, Braden, shows some interest in her. It becomes even harder when the LA Candy producer tells Jane that she needs to have a relationship on the show, so he starts fabricating one between Jane and Caleb. On top of that, Jane is still feuding with Madison for sabotaging her and then selling her secrets to the tabloids, but Madison is showing up at all of Jane's shoots and being super sweet on camera. Just when Jane thinks everything is getting too out of control in her life, she stumbles upon a gold mine of information that will change the course of all of the LA Candy cast members lives forever. Out of all of the LA Candy novels, this is probably the most uneventful. Though it follows the previous novel nicely, it just doesn't have as much action or drama as the others. However, the ending is well done and it often mirrors Lauren's real life, while still keeping the fictional feel of Jane alive. It also shows that what may look like reality TV to viewers, is nothing more than a bunch of staged interactions for the benefit of getting good ratings. (AS)

Sweet Little Lies (2010)

Continuing on where LA Candy left off, Jane Roberts, star of the hit reality TV show, finds herself in the middle of a national scandal after a tabloid publishes photos of her in a rather compromising position. Not knowing what to do or where to turn, Jane takes the advice of cast mate Madison and takes off with her to Cabo for some much-needed peace and quiet. But Jane can't run forever and she can't keep ignoring the persistent phone calls of her concerned friends, family and crew members either. Facing reality, Jane heads back to LA to make things right. Roommate and best friend Scarlett can't believe that Jane took off with that two-faced master manipulator, Madison. She tries to explain to Jane that Madison is the one who leaked the photos but Jane won't listen and this causes a rift in their long-time friendship. At this point, Jane doesn't know who she can trust anymore. To further complicate matters, Jane's heartthrob boyfriend Jesse is willing to take her back after she publicly humiliated him by cheating on him with his best friend, Braden. Though Jane loves Jesse (or at least she thinks she does) she really can't deny her feelings for Braden either. As Jane and Jesse's relationship becomes more and more turbulent, Jane has to decide what she really wants. Does she really want the cameras altering her life to fit what works for the show? Or does she want her old life back, when she wasn't America's sweetheart? Showing that Hollywood life isn't always so glamorous, this novel really takes the LA Candy series to another level. Though Jane is extremely naive about everything, it's still a suspenseful and intriguing page-turner. The only question is: Will Jane see the truth before it's too late? You'll have to read on to book No.3, Sugar and Spice, to find out. (AS)

Second Opinion

LA Candy (2009)

This novel by reality TV starlet Lauren Conrad chronicles the lives of Jane Roberts and her best friend Scarlett Harp as they move to LA and become the stars of a reality TV show. The book, which is based loosely on Conrad's own life, is a little slow in the beginning but picks up a little once Jane and Scarlett are discovered at a club by a TV producer. From that point on the two, though a little hesitant at first, decide to audition for the show and their lives change drastically. While Jane takes to the cameras being around easily, Scarlett is not so excited and wonders what she got herself into. Throw into the mix two other cast members, Gaby, a total ditz, and Madison, a total bitch with a nice girl facade, and things get even more complicated. When Jane starts dating Jesse, who happens to be the best friend of her friend-slash-major crush, Braden, things spiral out of control quickly and the jealousy of someone Jane thought she could trust ruins her life in an instant. With lots of run-of-the-mill Hollywood cliches (blondes, drugs, cosmetic surgery etc), LA Candy almost fails to deliver an original storyline. In addition, in pretty much every single chapter Jane and her friends are drinking (usually vodka soda for Jane) making it seem to the unknowing person who has never been to LA, that you can't have any fun in Tinseltown without being drunk. It is a quick and light read that would be great for the beach or a day when you don't need any actual depth in what you're reading. But the ending is a cliff-hanger and leaves you wanting to know what happens to Jane next. (AS)

Second Opinion

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