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review 2018-03-09 18:31
An Accessible, Beautiful Focus on the Rarest Orchids
Rare and Exotic Orchids: Their Nature and Cultural Significance - Joel L. Schiff

At first glance, Rare and Exotic Orchids: Their Nature and Cultural Significance seems yet another science book discussing the botany and natural history of orchids; but Joel L. Schiff's added focus on their cultural importance and why international communities around the world take special note of orchids adds an extra dimension to the subject.

 

Orchid aficionados will find Rare and Exotic Orchids's different approach eschews the more common attempt to classify and cover thousands of species in favor of a more concentrated profile of selected exotics which represent some of the rarest plants on Earth.

 

An opening history of orchids from ancient to modern times moves into botanical discussions of orchids, those who grew, studied, and wrote about them, and their place in a range of international societies.

 

From discoveries of new exotic orchids and how individual plants captured different hearts and minds to early explorers who ventured into unknown territory in search of new species, Joel L. Schiff brings to life not just the science surrounding orchids, but the human process of recognizing, cataloging, and appreciating them.

 

While science readers will appreciate the wealth of visual illustrations and technical discussions that reveal controversies as well as insights into orchid biology, technical details are juxtaposed with lively debates, discussions, history, and facts that even casual orchid fans or newcomers to the topic will find surprisingly easy to understand.

 

Schiff's high-quality images of exotic orchids (many of which are unique to his orchid book) nicely supplement facts that include the latest DNA research on orchids and their deceptive evolutionary behaviors, nicely complimenting the discussions of historical and scientific conundrums.

 

It's this approach, combined with lovely close-up color photos throughout, which makes Rare and Exotic Orchids a recommendation not just for professionals or botany libraries, but for general-interest readers who will enjoy a highly accessible study that invites an in-depth interest in orchids and their importance to human affairs.

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url 2018-01-04 12:18
New Releases in Book Series - Thursday, Jan. 4
Almost - Danielle Norman
Cold Truth - Susan Sleeman
 Coldbloods - Bella Forrest

Source:  FictFact's new release calendar

Source: www.fictfact.com/BookReleaseCalendar
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review 2017-10-17 00:00
No Orchids for Miss Blandish
No Orchids for Miss Blandish - James Hadley Chase I'm not sure why I picked this one up. I'd read another book my Chase a while back, and thought it was pretty awful. Not so this one. It was actually fairly good, given the genre. It's not Raymond Chandler, or even Dashiell Hammett, but still decent hard-boiled, noir detective fiction. I had no problems staying engaged. I'd give it 3*s +, were that allowed.

So, we have a gang of second-rate punks who decide to lift the diamond necklace of one Miss Blandish. Somehow they get stuck with Miss Blandish as well. But not for long. A higher-class gang of thugs disposes of the second-raters and snag Miss Blandish for themselves. After all, the diamond necklace is small potatoes, Miss Blandish should be worth a cool million in ransom.

The cops are all befuddled. They think Miss Blandish has been kidnapped by the second-rate punks, Riley and his gang, so go looking in all the wrong places. Riley and cohorts are actually well hidden in shallow graves.

But a former crime reporter, turned private eye, Dave Fenner, starts looking into things and begins to piece the strings together. Of course, there is lots of shooting and bodies pile up and so forth. It's also extraordinarily dark in that the not-quite-all-there Slim Grisson, son of Ma Grisson, the head of the higher-class gang, takes a fancy to Miss Blandish. They keep her drugged so he can spend time with her...or something.

One weird thing is that Slim Grisson liked watching TV. He had a 21-inch TV. Well, this book was written in 1939. There was barely any commercial TV until after World War II, i.e. a decade later. I don't believe that 21-inch TVs became common until the 1960s. I certainly don't remember such huge TVs in the early-to-mid 1950s, and I don't believe I got a TV that large until the mid 80s (also my first color TV). So, I have no idea how this makes sense. It's like the story was a 1930s period piece written in the 1980s by someone who had a lapse in his background research. It didn't spoil the story in any way, but it did seem rather weird to me.
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review 2017-10-15 04:23
Dream of Orchids by Phyllis Whitney
Dream of Orchids - Phyllis A. Whitney

Phyllis Whitney was 82 years old when she wrote this book. Seriously, guys - she was my mother-in-law's age (and I'm 51) and she would go on to write another 10 freaking books after she was 82. I'm giving it a third star just for that reason.

As far as the book itself, it certainly wasn't a bad book, although it also wasn't a great book. It's set in Key West, and at times Whitney got a little too travelogue in her descriptions. She usually does a better job integrating the setting details into the story itself. But, did I mention that she was 82 years old when she wrote this book? I'm still dealing with that fact.

This book definitely follows the Whitney formula: appealing young woman goes to a place where she is on her own, and some sort of dangerous situation develops. There is always romance, and sometimes the object of desire is a decent sort and sometimes he's the villain. There's always at least one questionable death that is usually murder, and the villain - who can be either male or female - often has a tenuous grip on reality. Often times, some historical crime is exposed.

In Dream of Orchids, Laurel is a young bookseller in New England whose mother has recently passed away, and who was abandoned by her father, Clifton York, a well known author. A young man shows up at her bookstore, asking her to visit it her father in Key West. Once she arrives in Key West, she learns that things are not as she had believed, and that there is something quite sinister going on with her father, her two younger sisters, Iris and Fern, a sunken Spanish galleon and the orchid house where her step-mother, Poppy, bled to death in a bizarre accident. There's also a creepy secretary, her scarred ex-husband, and Iris's much older and far too sketchy fiance, Derek.

This is not Whitney's best work. But goddammit, she was 82 when she wrote it. And that's amazing.

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text 2017-02-19 20:26
Week 7 of 2017
The Ersatz Elevator - Michael Kupperman,Lemony Snicket,Brett Helquist
The Vile Village - Lemony Snicket
The Hostile Hospital - Brett Helquist,Lemony Snicket
Champagne for One - Rex Stout,Lena Horne
Black Orchids - Rex Stout
The Silent Speaker - Rex Stout,Walter Mosley

 Books Read: 6

 

The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital: I'm continuing A Series of Unfortunate Events, hoping to finish by the end of this month. Sunny, Klaus, and Violet begin to investigate the VFD after the loss of the Quagmire triplets. At the end of The Vile Village the series breaks off from it's usual search for a guardian for the siblings and leaves them to fend for themselves completely. 4 1/2 stars.

 

Champagne For One, Black Orchids, The Silent Speaker: I stated last week in my round-up that going back and re-reading the Nero Wolfe books I enjoyed them even more than the first time, this continues to be accurate. Champagne For One is my favorite of the three I've finished this week (5 stars), Black Orchids comes in second (4 1/2 stars), and The Silent Speaker comes last (3 1/2 stars).

 

Ongoing Reads: 1

 

The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Reveled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime: I'm still working my way through this. Reading this, I have to say, not much has changed in regards to how people behave during and after a murder investigation.

 

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