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.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 a year off blogging

It's been such a long time since I've posted anything that it may seem as if I've staged my own death. But it's nothing so dramatic. It's simply that I've been so busy with other work this year that the blogging has suffered. 2015 was a sad year. There was the loss of a colleague at work through cancer and numerous office upheavals with various staff leaving. As well as this the phone would ring at unexpected times and bingo, I'd be called in to work. Not that I'm complaining as the library helps us to pay the bills but deadlines were continually stretched and my reading and writing suffered. At times I've felt as if 'library world' was dragging me along screaming and kicking and I had no time to read at all.
   But there were some gems that I managed to find. Among them was David Hair's The Taniwha's Tear. This is the second book in this fantasy series, Aotearoa, set in New Zealand, and it was a cracker of a read. The Taniwha is a giant lake monster from Maori legend that comes alive in the story. The pace is relentless and the characters are lovable.
   A Kind of Eden was a story by Amanda Smyth, set in Jamaica which was another beauty. It was a story heavy with pain and indecision and a terrible outcome for the protagonist's daughter but the tale left me with a lasting impression. Although I've already written about this one, its praise needs repeating. It was a great read.
   One book I read and enjoyed by Australian author Kate Constable was New Guinea Moon, a coming of age story set in the 1970s in PNG. I'll have to devote a whole post to that one. It was also worth reading.
   For the Forest of a Bird is another island story that I read and enjoyed. It's a gentle story about belonging and family life and where you fit when family dynamics shift. I actually know the author, Sue Saliba, as she is a patron of our library. The natural environment of Phillip Island inspired her to write this one and if you are after a heart-felt tale that's big on emotion, this one could be a story you'd enjoy.
   And I finally got to read Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races in 2015. Lots of blood and gore but a rollicking good tale about giant mythical horses that come out of the ocean and are as fast as the wind. I loved it.
So that was my tally of terrific island reads for me in 2015. Hopefully I'll get my act together and start blogging more regularly now. New Year's resolutions and all that...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wurramatyenna and the Magic Canoe by Lisa Kennedy

Wurramatyenna and the
 Magic Canoe (Dreaming
Path Books, 2014)
I finally got my hands on this book only to realise it's the first in the series, whereas Wurramatyenna and The Call Of The Sea is the sequel. Never mind - they are both delightful books full of gorgeous illustrations. Wurramatyenna and the Magic Canoe introduces an albatross who becomes Wurramatyenna's friend. When the albatross dies, its spirit encourages Wurramatyenna to journey across the sea in a little magic canoe to explore the islands of Bass Strait.
   Once again Lisa Kennedy has produced some engaging pictures, using what appears to be a water-colour wash to evoke the blues and greens of the deep sea. She has labelled many of the creatures and objects in the environment, highlighting their names in both English and Palawa Kani. Another great book celebrating the depth of knowledge of our indigenous people.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thoughts on Cyclone Pam

It's been very distressing seeing all the destruction through Vanuatu caused by Cyclone Pam. The people are suffering due to lack of water, food, shelter and medicine. Food gardens have been obliterated. It will take many months before even the speediest crops will yield again. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Vanuatu, and those affected in Kiribati, and the Solomon Islands.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wurramatyenna and the Call from the Sea by Lisa Kennedy

Wurramatyenna and the Call from
the Sea (Dreaming Path
Books, 2014)
This picture book caught my eye due to the fabulous illustrations. It is written and illustrated by artist Lisa Kennedy who is of Tasmanian Aboriginal descent. The book tells the tale of two Aboriginal girls taken from their families during the sealing trade in the Bass Strait. Young Wurramatyenna hears the cries of the lost girls in the wind as he stands beside the sea. He journeys in his canoe to find the girls and set their spirits free.
   The illustrations are the best. Patterns of shells and geometric prints in mostly blues and greens are on each page. The wildlife are depicted clearly too. Each has a label beside it, naming the creature in both English and Palawa Kani. There is also a glossary at the back.
   Truly a work of art and with spiritual depth, this book is a treasure.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cat on the Island by Gary Crew and Gillian Warden

Cat on the Island
 (Harper Collins, 2008)
I borrowed this picture book to read to my kids and found it quite disturbing. It's based on the true story of what happened to the wildlife on Stephens Island, New Zealand in the 1890s. The folk who came to man the lighthouse brought a cat with them. The cat had kittens, which turned feral and these killed all the little wrens that lived on the island. What is so tragic for science is that these wrens were unique because they were the only flightless wrens in the world.
   Although the subject matter is confronting, it lead to lengthy family conversations about feral cats and pet cats.
   Gillian Warden illustrated the book and the cats are depicted as red with needle sharp teeth and huge eyes. Quite frightening really.     I think this is a good book for introducing young children to conservation issues.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Kind of Eden by Amanda Smyth

I listened to this tale as a talking book and the voice of the narrator, played by Lloyd Notice, was just brilliant. I try to listen to talking books when I drive and if I like the resonance of the voice I'll keep listening through to the end (that is if the story is engaging too). Nothing makes me hit the eject button faster than if the reader has an annoying voice.

A Kind of Eden (Serpent's Tail)
So, what's this book about? Essentially it's a crime novel, but it's also full of mid-life crisis angst and the guilt that won't brush off when you betray someone. The hero, Martin, is a fifty-something ex-cop doing an expatriate stint in the Caribbean as an advisor to the Trinidad police. He has found life in Trinidad exotic and has fallen in love with a much younger local girl, Safiya.
Meanwhile Martin's wife and teenage daughter have arranged to come over to Trinidad for a holiday. Martin hides the truth from his family but a serious crime exposes all his deceptions.
Smyth describes the heady aromas of Caribbean food, the squalor of the local villages, the vivid scenery and all the frustrations of culture shock with great clarity.
Although Martin is hard to like at times, the story is engaging because the reader wants to know if justice will be done in the end.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

NZ/Samoan poet

I'm listening to an interview with NZ/Samoan poet Tusiata Avia on Radio National today. A great insight into Samoan custom. I must check out more of her poetry. Click on the hyperlink above to hear the interview.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Sea Chest

(Meditation on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island)
The dead buccaneer's trunk
with salt-encrusted brass hinges
and heavy oak panelling
held a shabby pouch with a few doubloons
guineas and sovereigns  
a chart wrapped in oilskin
showed a magnified dot in the Pacific.
The instructions read
behold a tall tree
in the shoulder of the Spyglass

compass bearings east by north east
there lies a sea chest.

Young Hawkins and the crew
searched for Captain Flint's treasure
instead they found
sand-encrusted brass hinges broken
and oak panelling splintered.

B. Montgomery 2014 



Monday, December 8, 2014

ASSI Stories screening

If you happen to be in Brisbane this weekend, get down to The Edge on Sunday the 14th of December to see the world premiere screening of Australian South Sea Islander (ASSI) Stories. This collection of short films will be presented to the public at 3pm. There will also be speeches, music, light refreshments and an art exhibition.