2 books in 2 days! Princess Academy by Shannon Hale - thanks rab - and Bloody Jack by L. A. Meyer. (And I'm reading Dakotah by Kathleen Norris, as well.)
Main Character: Miri - too small to work in the quarry, Miri feels like an outcast, although she has good friends in her village - especially Peder a boy her own age.
Setting: Mount Eskel, a territory of the kingdom Danland, best known for its linder quarries. Linder is a highly sought after stone similar to marble, I think.
The terrain is forbidding and the people are strong. Everyone works in the quarry except the old, the infirm and Miri whose father refuses to let her work there.
What happens: The royal priests have decided that the Prince's new bride will come from Mount Eskel so all the girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are "imprisoned" at an abandoned stone mansion under a disdainful teacher. A boring prince, scary punkshments, rivalry among the girls, a blossoming romance and BANDITS!! all add up to a very good read.
Bloody Jack : Being the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy
Main Character: Mary or "Jacky" Faber.
Setting: England and the Atlantic Ocean in or around 1800.
What happens: When the leader of Mary's gang of street orphans is murdered, Mary steals his clothes and gets a berth aboard the HMS Dolphin as a ship's boy in the Royal navy. Off they all go to fight pirates! The book is written in Mary's voice and she spends a lot of time working on "The Deception" as she calls it.
A nasty pedophile of a sailor, fights with the "other" ship's boys, battles with pirates, bully officers, tattoos, ear piercing, a visit to a brothel, being found out by one of the other "boys", and being stranded on a desert island all make this a glorious read for less squeamish and slightly more mature readers (discussions of sexual situations though nothing graphic, menses, violence, - PG-13) .
There are two more books in this series - so far - and I have the next one Curse of the Blue Tattoo on hold.
I have four more books waiting to be read. Next? Alchemy by my favorite new Zealand author, Margaret Mahy.