The very recent mounths seem to have brought great news for string theory. I´ll write in this post a brief guide to the relevant papers.
The first, cronologically, is this paper by Beasley, Heckman and Vafa. It is a paper where, for the first time, it is addressed the task of constructing phenomenology from F-theory. A second one is announced where the program started in thiw will be concluded. If 125 pages is more time of what you have available just now you can try to read a sinopsis in the Jackes Distler glog, concretelly here. Lubos also wrote his own comment, try to search for it in his blog ;-).
Maybe the reader has no too much familiarity with compactifications and similars. In that case, or even if he has, it would be recomendable the following paper Les houches lectures on constructing string vacua. The great point of that paper is that it covers in a single paper approach for many types of strings, and many types of vacua (compactifications, fluxes, etc).
Another very interesting topic are advances in M-theory and their interactions. A review explaing the topic can read here. Well, two papers have changed things and some people (yes, you are rgiht, Lubos) has told that it may be the beguining of a third string theory revolution. The papers in question are these:Gauge Symmetry and supersymmetry of Multiple M2-Branes and M2 to D2. You can read a brief description in Lubo´s or Distler´s blogs. I particularly recomend, if you are in a hurry, the one in Lubos blog because it is easier to understand.
Not enought reading? Well, there is a very recent paper in perturbabtive string theory. Concretely some where the four loop amplitude for string theory is explictely calculated. The author of the paper is Samuel Grushevsky and the actual paper is this
For the string heater readers I would recomend reading this paper by Smollin and all. They continuate their "ocutopussy program" where the try to get the standar model from spin networks of pure gravity. To be honnest, I don´t really think that approach is particularly viable, measured by the own standards of the LQG commnuity, but it is up the readers own judice to decide what is interesting or not.
To conclud simply to say that at last I found a great reference for the basics of the renormalization group, as well as in many other topics,the three volumes book of Steven Weinberg in quantum field theory. I had never tried to read that book because of it´s extension (and because, hey, I already had a reasonably good knowledge of the subject) but I must say that despite of ít´s extension it is so well written that one can read it fast. I hope to write soon a post about the subject of renormalization group theory, that could serve as an introduction to those who would want to follow the Martin reuter papers on the subject and the discusions on Distler blog on the particular.