It was my friend Liz who introduced me to Anne Bishop and the Black Jewels trilogy. I read the series as indiviudal novels, but it’s apparently available in an omnibus edition as well.
Essentially, it’s a fantasy series, that takes place in three different Realms (read: planes) of a single planet, and follows the life of a girl named Jaenelle from the age of 12 through her early adulthood. Most of the characters in the novel are witches (or warlords), and the jewels signify the depths of their powers. The fun of the books comes a lot from the names of the other characters. How can you not love a series that has folk called Saetan and Lucivar? How can you not love a race of winged humanoids, or telephathic puppies?
True, it’s not great literature, but mind candy is perfectly acceptable, and I’d argue that reading ANYTHING is better than not reading at all. And these novels may be mind candy, but they’re good mind candy.