I think I came late to that Slack discussion, but for posterity's sake, I'll repeat my "+1" that I made there, here:
For combat scenes, and how to pace them, check out Joe Abercrombie. Anything of his will do, but the First Law trilogy is what we were talking about in particular. It's like a master class in how to make action sequences that click, where the reader always knows what's going on, but never gets bored.
As for a book club, though: why not? Why not have a VE Book Club, where we choose a book per month to read and discuss? Not as a requirement, but just as an option? Every 1st of the month, we get to start talking about the recommended book from the previous month.