Harry Potter update: Read the first chapter last night, and five more tonight. About 130 pages in, and the bookmark looks like it's just a few pages from the front cover. This is going to take forever.
Enjoyed the first chapter quite a bit. Liked the acknowledgment that the war going on in the wizard world is being noticed by the "normal" world. It's reminiscent of the Doctor's comment in the first episode of Doctor Who, about how all humans do is eat chips, sleep, and watch TV, while they fail to notice the war going on beneath their feet. If the magical world is supposed to secretly coexist with the "Muggle" world, then the books ought to occasionally acknowledge the existence of that world. And, finally, six books in, they do.
The next five chapters feature the now-traditional JK Rowling slow build. You can't accuse the woman of not laying her groundwork! I know critics (you know, the folks who post things on Amazon.com like their opinions matter) consider these chapters to be unnecessary padding, and want her to get to the action faster, but I kind of like them. I like the little hints of things going on, the laying-out of clues that all make sense when the pieces come together later. But those nuggets need to be included off to the sides of other stuff going on, or they end up being spotlighted too prominently. Part of what makes the series work for me is the sense that everyone has real lives and everyday concerns. Leave out the scenes of Harry and his friends just talking, or going shopping, or going to class, and it's suddenly all about the plot and the quest and the battle or whatever, and it becomes Lord of the bloody Rings.
Going to bed now. It's two in the morning, and it's 100 freaking degrees out.