Okay, I finished Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy last week, after racing through the last several hundred pages in the last day. Sophie was very obliging to let me read while she played and to nap extra long so I could finish the book in full "tears and sighs and heart thumping engagement" mode.
A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing comprise the trilogy, which takes place in Victorian England and focuses on Gemma Doyle and her friends as they explore the magical Realms and the dangerous real world... they live corseted lives and find freedom in magic, but danger in both worlds. Bray throws in some lovely poetic allusions (I especially loved all of the Paradise Lost bits, the fire-lined angel wings, etc., in the second book). She goes places I didn't expect, which is incredibly rare for any story. I can almost always figure what's coming, in a movie, TV show, or book, and I prize the authors who surprise me while still making it real and right. In the end I couldn't have loved these books more. They were full of incredibly empowering female images, while being an awesome, "grab you and don't let go til the last page" story. Incredibly moving, funny, mysterious, epic, and beautiful. I really did cry and get goosepimples, multiple times, and that's rare. And Bray is apparently very funny, as I've recently discovered in her blog, which you can check out to the right (I'll move it down to the other author's blogs before long). I highly recommend this trilogy to anyone who likes the boarding school genre, fantasy, or female empowerment. There's not a lot about birth/babies but my earth mama and feminist elements were both satisfied. And that's pretty amazing!
If anyone reads these, let me know me know if you liked them. I used to have a copy of the first but it's gone to some former student who hopefully was swept up in it and loves it dearly.