I'm currently reading "Rebel Ice" by S.L.Viehl. It's the sixth in the Stardoc series, a heart-warming yet culture shocking, humorous at times, science fiction adventure that isn't over-the-top science-in-your-face. She doesn't write down to the reader either. The tech's in there, the emotion's in there, and this time, there's snow. Lots of it. (With all the snow that fell this winter, I had to wait for summer to read this one, didn't I?)
For anyone who hasn't read any of the Stardoc novels, I have to warn you, they're addicting. The main character, Cherijo, is a doctor with some family problems that turn intergalactic. Literally. If you're going to read the series, start with "Stardoc".
Interestingly enough, Viehl starts this novel with the point of view of a character we've never met in the previous books, in a strange world we've never even heard of, practicing customs I'd never imagined. I admit, I was a little concerned for the first few pages about being thrown into this world without Cherijio and her friends, but trust in Viehl won out. My favorites showed, each being tested in their own way around this planet of ice, each suffering, each tortured. And quite a punch at the end, I might add.
Here's a link to Viehl's blog which contains a fascinating combination of writing advice, general adivce, and Viehl's interpretation of what makes the world go 'round. She gives stuff away too, which is always nice.