"Who Is Willing", by MCA Hogarth
I was fortunate enough to be a first reader on this space opera novella, and loved it. This is a standalone story, which I say with confidence since I haven't read any of the earlier stories. it presents some fascinating insights on leadership that aren't usually touched on in sf-action stories. It's a thoughtful story about the ordinary problems of service in a military during a time of mostly-peace. Awareness that peace is not a permanent condition permeates the narrative, adding significance to it, and includes a well-executed action sequence. There are some well-drawn alien-aliens as well, but my favorite part was the relationship between Beringwaite and Alysha, which changed in interesting ways over the course of story. It has a slow and prosaic start, but once I got past the first couple of scenes, I had a great time with it. The resolution surprised me while still making sense, and I liked the emphasis on contemplative solutions rather than charging through trying to solve everything with brute force. I'll give it an 8.5.
"Mira's Last Dance", Lois McMaster Bujold
This is the fourth novella in the Penric and Desdemona fantasy series, and pleased me with its lack of violence-as-the-solution, and the way the characters look for smart, ethical solutions to their problems. There's very little use-of-force in the story at all, in fact, despite the central conflict being "characters trying to flee country without being captured and killed".
The first two in this series are standalone, but the 3rd & 4th should be ready together. Along with, I expect, the 5th, whenever it comes out. There's a romance subplot that runs through 3 & 4 and the ending of this one suggests it's not really resolved. Anyway, I liked it and still recomend the series. I'll give it an 8.