Lunch Time Book Club

Please join us for this lunchtime book club as we read and discuss great books!  We meet on the FIRST TUESDAY of alternating months (February, April, June, August, October, and December), here at The Next Chapter, starting promptly at 12 noon and ending at 12:45, so you have time to get back to work.   Bring your lunch!


WEDNESDAY, June 5, 2013 (note the date change)

Cherry Cola BookclubThe Cherry Cola Book Club
by Ashton Lee

A slice of smart, witty, warm-hearted Southern fiction in the tradition of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Café and Divine Sisters of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Cherry Cola Book Club tells the story of Maura Beth Mayhew in Cherico, Mississippi, as she tries to save the local library with the help of some idiosyncratic locals.  Our Tresa loved this light-hearted, feel-good read, and calls it the perfect beach read. UPDATE:  And now, the author, Ashton Lee, will be joining us for a very special session!  Mr. Lee was not able to be here on Tuesday, June 4th, so we changed the date to Wednesday, June 5th.  He will be at our noon book club meeting, and then again at 2:00 pm for an Author Afternoon Tea.  We hope you can join us.

August 6th, 2013

OrchardThe Orchard
by Theresa Weir

THE ORCHARD is the story of a street-smart city girl who must adapt to a new life on an apple farm after she falls in love with Adrian Curtis, the golden boy of a prominent local family whose lives and orchards seem to be cursed. Married after only three months, young Theresa finds life with Adrian on the farm far more difficult and dangerous than she expected. Rejected by her husband’s family as an outsider, she slowly learns for herself about the isolated world of farming, pesticides, environmental destruction, and death, even as she falls more deeply in love with her husband, a man she at first hardly knew and the land that has been in his family for generations. She becomes a reluctant player in their attempt to keep the codling moth from destroying the orchard, but she and Adrian eventually come to know that their efforts will not only fail but will ultimately take an irreparable toll.

October 1st, 2013

Trickster’s Point
by William Kent Krueger

“Trickster’s Point” finds the unsinkable Cork O’Connor sitting in the shadow of a towering monolith, deep in the Minnesota wilderness. With him is Jubal Little, who is favored to become the state’s first Native American elected governor and who is slowly dying . Cork understands that he’s been set up. As he works to clear his name and track the real killer, he recalls his long, complex relationship with Jubal, the Native kid who aspired to be a populist politician and grew to become a cunning man capable of treachery and even murder. As Cork looks deeply into his own past, he comes face to face with the many motives, good and ill, that lead men and women into the difficult, sometimes deadly, political arena.with an arrow through his heart. The two friends have been bow hunting, but this is no accident. Worse, the arrow belongs to Cork.

December 3rd, 2013

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar
by Suzanne Joinson

It is 1923. Evangeline (Eva) English and her sister Lizzie are missionaries heading for the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar. Though Lizzie is on fire with her religious calling, Eva’s motives are not quite as noble, but with her green bicycle and a commission from a publisher to write “A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar,” she is ready for adventure.In present day London, a young woman, Frieda, returns from a long trip abroad to find a man sleeping outside her front door. She gives him a blanket and a pillow, and in the morning finds the bedding neatly folded and an exquisite drawing of a bird with a long feathery tail, some delicate Arabic writing, and a boat made out of a flock of seagulls on her wall. Tayeb, in flight from his Yemeni homeland, befriends Frieda and, when she learns she has inherited the contents of an apartment belonging to a dead woman she has never heard of, they embark on an unexpected journey together.”A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar “explores the fault lines that appear when traditions from different parts of an increasingly globalized world crash into one other. Beautifully written, and peopled by a cast of unforgettable characters, the novel interweaves the stories of Frieda and Eva, gradually revealing the links between them and the ways in which they each challenge and negotiate the restrictions of their societies as they make their hard-won way toward home. “A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar “marks the debut of a wonderfully talented new writer.

Previous Selections

February 5th, 2013

Mrs Kennedy and MeMrs. Kennedy and Me
by Clint Hill

An enthralling, tragic, and intensely private portrayal of the captivating first lady from a man who knew her like no one else. When Secret Service agent Clint Hill was initially assigned to guard First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, he envisioned tea parties and gray-haired matrons. But as soon as he met her, he was swept up in the whirlwind of her beauty, her grace, her intelligence, her coy humor, her magnificent composure, and her extraordinary spirit. For four years, Clint was by Jackie’s side–through the early days of JFK’s presidency; the birth of sons John and Patrick and Patrick’s sudden death; Kennedy-family holidays; her intriguing meeting with Aristotle Onassis; and the president’s assassination and the dark days that followed. Filled with unforgettable details, startling revelations, and sparkling, intimate moments, this is the once-in-a-lifetime story of a man doing the most exciting job in the world, with a woman all the world loved, and the haunting tragedy that ended it all too soon.

April 2, 2013

Buddha in the AtticThe Buddha in the Attic
by Jule Otsuka

A gorgeous novel by the celebrated author of “When the Emperor Was Divine” that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago. In eight unforgettable sections, “The Buddha in the Attic” traces the extraordinary lives of these women, from their arduous journeys by boat, to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; from their experiences raising children who would later reject their culture and language, to the deracinating arrival of war. Once again, Julie Otsuka has written a spellbinding novel about identity and loyalty, and what it means to be an American in uncertain times.


In 2012, we explored some classics of genre fiction!  We started with Romance, moved on to Westerns, then Spy Thrillers, Epic Fantasy and concluded with Chic Lit!  We always welcome new faces to the discussion — even if you haven’t read the book…yet!

Summer 2012 – Chic Lit!

July 3rd, 2012, 12 Noon

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jone’s Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget’s permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR.

Over the course of the year, Bridget loses a total of 72 pounds but gains a total of 74. She remains, however, optimistic. Through it all, Bridget will have you helpless with laughter, and — like millions of readers the world round — you’ll find yourself shouting, “Bridget Jones is me!”

July 31st, 2012, 12 Noon (rescheduled time!)

Watermelon by Marian Keyes

Claire has everything she ever wanted: a husband she adores, a great apartment, a good job. Then, on the day she gives birth to their first baby, James informs her that he’s leaving her. Claire is left with a newborn daughter, a broken heart, and a postpartum body that she can hardly bear to look at.

She decides to go home to Dublin. And there, sheltered by the love of a quirky family, she gets better. So much so, in fact, that when James slithers back into her life, he’s in for a bit of a surprise.

September 4th, 2012, 12 Noon

Heart of the Matter, by Emily Giffin

In alternating points of view, a “New York Times”-bestselling author tells a story of three good people caught in an untenable triangle, each questioning everything they once believed about love and loyalty. And each, ultimately, discovering what is truly at the heart of the matter.

Spring 2012 – Epic Fantasy!

April 3rd, 2012, 12 Noon

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The enduring classic introduction to the world of the Lord of the Rings, many of you read it in Jr. High, but we’re going to revisit it as adults.  Written for J.R.R. Tolkiens own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when first published more than sixty years ago. Now recognized as a timeless classic with sales of more than 40 million copies worldwide, this introduction to Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Wizard, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth tells of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent.  Read More

May 1st, 2012

The Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb

The first of 12 books (and counting) about the Six Duchies written by Hobb, this is one I’ve returned to repeatedly, loving it more each time!  It is the story of Fitz, the bastard son of a crown prince who is raised in the castle stables by the gruff Stablemaster Burrell, and shunned by the royal family while being trained in the shadowy arts of an assassin at the order of his grandfather, King Shrewd. But Fitz has a secret, in his blood runs the magic Skill–and an ability shrowded in even deeper secrecy that if discovered would put Fitz in terrible danger. Meanwhile, the kingdom is in danger, and as barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.  Read More

June 5th, 2012


I’m really dithering on this third of the Fantasy titles — I’m leaning toward A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay.  So stay tuned, I’ll figure it out soon!

Here is an ongoing list of the other Genre Classics we’ve completed!

Winter 2012 –Spy Thrillers!

January 3rd, 2012, 12 Noon

Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming

This was the first book about Agent 007, James Bond, and it generated major buzz when it came out in 1953, and changed the spy genre while spawning numerous movies, TV shows, plays and influencing the popular culture landscape for years to come.  We have to start our spy excursion with 007!

February 7, 2012, 12 Noon

The Spy who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carre

Hailed as the ‘Best Spy Novel of All Time’, this international bestseller, published in 1963, was written by a former British intelligence agent, and tells the gritty tale of an old Cold War spy who longs to get out of the business, but is convinced to conduct one last mission before he retires. The story highlights the a-morality of both East and West, as they battle quietly in the name of national security; and was revolutionary in its sharp contrast with the sleek, romantic view of spies in the James Bond novels written by Ian Fleming.

March 6, 2012, 12 Noon

Jackdaws, by Ken Follett

And now for a more recent entry in the genre, this WWII espionage thriller by bestselling author Follett, returning to the period of his classic Eye of the Needle, was first published in 2001.  Set during the darkest days of the war, and based on a true story, this is the action-packed adventure of a group of British women who infiltrate a Nazi telephone exchange center located in a French chateau, as the cleaning crew, so that they can disrupt communications on D-Day.  With byzantine twists and signature Follett style, this is just the page-turner to get us through the dreary evenings of late winter!

Fall 2011 – Westerns!

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

The Daybreakers, by Louis L’Amour

This was the first book L’Amour wrote in his classic series about the Sackett family.

“Tyrel Sackett was born to trouble, but vowed to justice. After having to kill a man in Tennessee, he hit the trail west with his brother Orrin. Those were the years when decent men and women lived in fear of Indians, rustlers, and killers, but the Sackett brothers worked to make the West a place where people could raise their children in peace. Orrin brought law and order from Santa Fe to Montana, and his brother Tye backed him up every step of the way. Till the day the job was done, Tye Sackett was the fastest gun alive.”  Read more about Louis L’Amour and his multitude of novels here  and here.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Arguably the greatest American novel ever written (and believe me, I’ve heard some of the arguments), this is an epic novel in length and scope, that will, in the words of one reviewer, ‘ravish’ you with its plot and passion.  It is the story of a group of cowboys on a cattle drive, but it is also a love story, a great adventure story, and a heartbreaking story of friendship and loss.  Take your time with this one, it’s 900 pages, and worth every one!  Read more about Lonesome Dove here

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Shane by Jack Shaeffer

The iconic western! In the summer of 1889, a mysterious and charismatic man rides into a small Wyoming valley, where he joins homesteaders who take a stand against a bullying cattle rancher, and where he changes the lives of a young boy and his parents.  You may remember the movie — but have you read the book, lately?

Summer 2011: Romance

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

This first book in an ongoing series with 11 entries so far, was first published 20 years ago, and it’s still going strong.  While classed as a Romance, it is also a swashbuckling time-travel adventure story, in which Claire Randall, a former WWII combat nurse is on holiday in Scotland when she innocently touches a boulder that is part of a ring of ancient standing stones, and suddenly finds herself 200 years earlier in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans.  There she encounters Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior and of course, she falls madly in love, and Claire becomes a woman torn between two men, two times, and two identities.  Delicious, un-put-downable fun!

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks

A modern classic, this is the quintessential love story of two young people in the South, who fall in love, are thwarted, temporarily, by her parents, and who eventually manage to reunite years later.  The second part of the book finds them as an elderly couple, living in a nursing home.  This novel appears on nearly every list of top Romance novels of all time, so enjoy, and gather your hankies for this one!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Cotillion, by Georgette Hyer

Known as the Queen of the Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer was legendary for her research, historical accuracy, and her extraordinary plots and characters. This classic tale follows two distant cousins as they head for London, where a series of hilarious mishaps ensue. Young Kitty Charing stands to inherit a vast fortune from her irascible great-uncle Matthew–provided she marries one of her cousins. Kitty is not wholly adverse to the plan, if the right nephew proposes. Unfortunately, Kitty has set her heart on Jack Westruther, a confirmed rake, who seems to have no inclination to marry her anytime soon. In an effort to make Jack jealous, and to see a little more of the world than her isolated life on her great-uncle’s estate has afforded her, Kitty devises a plan. She convinces yet another of her cousins, the honorable Freddy Standen, to pretend to be engaged to her. Her plan would bring her to London on a visit to Freddy’s family and (hopefully) render the elusive Mr. Westruther madly jealous. Thus begins Cotillion, arguably the funniest, most charming of Heyer’s many delightful Regency romances.


4 responses to “Lunch Time Book Club

  1. Gary Beene

    May 22, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I was just browsing and noticed that the Lunch Bunch Book Club read The Blue Sweater, by Jacqueline Novogratz. I would be honored if your club would consider reading The Seeds We Sow, Kindness that Fed a Hungry World. It too tells the story of powerful connections of kindness across generations and around the world.

    This book also has a local interest for you in that two of Iowa’s favorite sons are main characters. I hope you will enjoy the read.

    Best wishes.

  2. Robert Kuehnle (pen name of Ashton Lee)

    April 3, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Dear Lunch Time Book Club: I am honored that you have chosen the first novel in my new series from Kensington Books–‘The Cherry Cola Book Club’–for your August selection. I am a very pro-active writer and enjoy working with book clubs and indie book stores. I would be willing to come to Knoxville to participate in this event, as I am now planning my book tour with my Kensington publicist. Her name is Adeola Saul: . If you have any interest in this, please let her know, and she will contact me. I do not charge a fee for this–I believe it is more important to interact with potential readers, one of the main reasons I am a writer. Again, thanks for choosing my novel to review and discuss. I don’t think you will be disappointed. And the sequel has already been written and will be released in April of 2014. My agent and I will hear shortly on Kensington’s decision on our two-novel extension of the series. Good reading to all! Ashton Lee


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