About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Bone Tiki by David Hair

Wow! This book is amazing. It has Maori mythology, Kiwi history, suspense, humour and relentless pace. If you enjoy fantasy, thrillers or any supernatural themes, you will love this book.
   Young Matiu Douglas has a bone tiki he stole and the owner, Puarata, is out to get him. The trouble is that Puarata is no regular bad guy. He's a supernatural nasty fellow with power to call up all manner of terrifying henchmen. The Bone Tiki is like a magic lantern which can store a genie. In this story it holds a good warrior, called Wiri, whom Matiu befriends.
   The story is basically a good versus evil  plot but the setting jumps into another world where ghosts are prevalent and the history of New Zealand comes alive. Mythical creatures also inhabit this other world called Aotearoa.
   The Bone Tiki is the first in The Aotearoa Series written by David Hair. If the other books are anything like this one, I'm hooked and can't wait to read the whole series.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Robyn Harbour's book launch

Last week I was excited to attend Robyn Harbour's book launch at the Inverloch Library. Robyn has written a collection of short stories entitled Beyond the Palm Trees. Her stories were inspired by her time living in Vanuatu. Robyn and her husband were missionaries in Vanuatu for three years.
   The front cover of the book shows a delightful shot of a typical Melanesian village. I'll have to get reading all the stories so I can review her book at a later date.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Two weeks in the Solomon Islands

I was very pleased to be able to visit the Solomon Islands again for two weeks in September. Whilst there I visited friends and family and spent time in my husband's village. It was a great trip with lots of fun, laughter, red mud and hot sun. Thanks to my extended family in Tholana for making us feel very welcome.

Teaching the Wedge-tailed Eagle song to the
 Tholana kindergarten, Ysabel. Source: B. Montgomery.
On board the Uta Princess on our way to Ysabel Province.
Source: B. Montgomery.

Back at Tenaru with Modi and John,
 two of my fellow staff members in 2000.
Source: B. Montgomery

Monday, September 8, 2014

The First Voyage by Allan Baillie

The First Voyage
 (Puffin, 2014)
The First Voyage is a tale about people long ago, when the land mass known as Sahul was in existence. It is now known as New Guinea and Australia. This story is set around 30,000 years ago when the Yam tribe escape persecution from the Crocodile tribe. The main characters are teenagers Bent Beak and The Wind. There are elders and younger members of the tribe too that the reader grows to love. Unfortunately some characters die, but most of the tribe makes it off Bird Island (one day to become Timor Leste) to travel by raft across the sea to a wide red land (one day to become Australia).

I enjoyed this book, for its simplicity and endearing characters. It is a great adventure.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Illustrated Myths and Legends of the Pacific by A.W. Reed

Illustrated Myths and Legends of the Pacific
 (2007, Reed Books)
This book is gorgeous because the watercolour illustrations are so realistic and engaging. But the stories also range from humorous, such as the 'Foolish Canoe Paddlers', to dark, such as the story from Vanuatu called the 'Six Men Who Tried to Catch a Sunbeam'. Many Pacific Island nations are  represented. Although Tuvalu and Kiribati miss out for some reason.
   Jennifer Cooper is the illustrator and she has done a tremendous job. Even on pages without a major illustration, she has created borders or motifs at the edge of the text, that depict island lifestyles.
   A wonderful children's book and a great resource for teachers who need to implement a bit of Pasifika into the curriculum.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Midwinterblood
(Indigo, 2011)
On a remote island called Blessed, newcomer Eric and local girl Merle are falling in love. But Eric can't help feeling he's been there before, and Merle seems so familiar, so beautiful, so enticing...
It turns out Eric has been to Blessed before. Midwinterblood is set in seven different times telling the story of Eric and Merle. Centuries ago they were King and Queen of the island, but famine and disease led the superstitious villagers to sacrifice the king.  As he died he swore he would live seven lives and his queen swore she would follow him. What follows is a creepy, but beautifully crafted tale of reincarnation, love and sacrifice.
   Marcus Sedgwick is a master of creepy tales and this is no exception. His depiction of the island is eerie in itself. There are no children. A mysterious purple-black flower with narcotic and healing properties grows freely and hares roam the island. Although both of these seem innocent enough, their recurring use throughout the book over each of the lives of Eric and Merle, lends a spooky tone to the novel.
   A terrific read from a gothic master, this book is well worth reading.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Magic Seashell by Makerita Urale

Masina is woman castaway on a lonely island. She finds a beautiful shell and wears it as a necklace. She spends many years alone on the island, fending for herself and building a beautiful home and garden. One day a huge cyclone comes and destroys everything on the island. In her flight to get to safety in a cave, she loses her shell necklace. Bereft, Masina sits and cries.

The Magic Seashell
(Steele Roberts, 1999)
Unbeknown to her, the shell necklace washes up on another island and sets in place a rescue mission.
   The Magic Seashell is a picture story book, aimed at children. It is unusual because the main characters are adults, not children, yet the story has a strong mythical quality to it which makes it endearing. Although the text is quite long, Makerita Urale has crafted a gentle story full of emotion and dialogue that will delight readers.
   The illustrator, Samuel Sakaria, has produced a variety of pictures, predominately in vibrant yellows and blues to accompany each page. Some illustrations have interesting borders depicting island motifs and woven patterns.
  This is a beautiful
book with a happy ending.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Father's Islands by Christobel Mattingley

Before I read Christobel Mattingley's book I knew zilch about the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman. In fact, I didn't even know he was Dutch. Now I have a great deal of respect for a man who spent years at sea for very little thanks from the Councillors and the Governor General who sent him on such dangerous expeditions.
My Father's Islands (NLA
 Publishing, 2012)
   My Father's Islands is written from the point of view of Tasman's young daughter, Claesgen, who spent most of her life in Batavia (now Jakarta) during the mid 1600s. This gives emotion and depth to a subject I have always found hard to get enthusiastic about - explorers. I think this is because my father raved on about Bourke and Wills and Charles Sturt and Oxley and Blaxland and numerous others for much of my childhood. It has given me a kind of allergic reaction to Australian explorer stories. With this in mind, I think I did well to finish this small book.
   However half way through the story Tasman's ships left Tasmania and journeyed to New Zealand, Tonga and later, the Solomon Islands and New Ireland. These were the parts I found fascinating, especially his encounters with the islanders.
   The text is pitched at children, though it is a good book for history buffs of all ages. It is filled with charts and illustrations taken on Tasman's journey along the S
outhern Ocean, past Tasmania, through to New Zealand and then on to the Pacific Isles.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ponape, 1994 Source: B. Montgomery
On wet, windy, winter days, like I'm living through right now, I wish I could be back in Micronesia, enjoying the sun, the sea and the slow pace of life. Dream on...