I used some of the time in Portugal (also travelling to and from) to finish a number of books I'd started and got stuck with. First of these was C.J. Cherryh's Downbelow Station, winner of the Hugo Award in 1982, one of the few Hugo winners I hadn't read, but I was pushed into it by mylescorcoran's recommendation.
Oogh. It really took me a long time to get into this. Roughly 450 pages (out of 520) to be precise. In fairness I thought the end was indeed exciting, but I spent the beginning and middle utterly baffled about who was in which faction, why the factions were in conflict, and really why I should care. The aliens were not particularly alien, I had difficulty distinguishing between the human characters, and the plot seemed incomprehensible. Perhaps it is unfair of me to demand of science fiction that it should not make me work too hard for my pleasure, but I feel I work hard enough during the day and have a right to some light escapism in the evenings. If I want to read gripping space opera I'll go back to Bujold.
As I said, the end was good, but I didn't really feel it was worth the effort of getting there.