In The Consuming Fire, Scalzi builds on a fun, fast, political story of an empire nearing ruin. If you haven’t, I recommend reading The Collapsing Empire first. Not only does this story pick up just moments after the first book but I feel that neither of these work well as stand-alone novels. These are stories that are working towards something much bigger, which is how I feel more series should be written.
Airframe has non-stop action and intrigue from the beginning. I could not put this book down until it was over. Crichton does a great job of laying out the airline industry - manufacturers, operators, FAA, and everything in between - in a way that is awfully close to reality. I’ve worked in the airline industry for 6+ years so there could be a bit of bias creeping in when I say even the “data dumps” were interesting, but those few times are the only places where this story could be considering anything less than break-neck.