A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold was recommended to me when I was looking for Sci-fi Family Sagas. I was somewhat apprehensive about starting with the tenth book in a series, but I was told all her books were written as stand-alones. I had no trouble following the plot or the references to books I missed. I was fascinated by the world and characters, so I plan to read other Vorkosigan books soon. As much as I want to get the whole story on the previous book, maybe I should start from the beginning.
The second book recommended to me was Dignity by Eva Caye. I loved the premise of a scientist catching the heart of an emperor and the first few chapters really hooked me. However, halfway through I felt like I was getting a second-hand account of the story. I just couldn't feel the tension, even though there was plenty of conflict and plot. The resolutions seemed passive and too many scenes were summarized instead of shown. Maybe my problem was that I read A Civil Campaign first, and it's hard to compete with that.
For the opposite reason, I loved Defiance by C.J. Redwine. Even though the first book in the Curier's Daughter series had minimal plot, I was emotionally invested in the characters. Conflict and tension make for a great book.
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