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.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Sea on our Skin by Madeleine Tobert

The Sea on Our Skin
(Two Roads, 2012)
This is the story of a violent man, Ioane, who marries a girl named Amalia on a remote island somewhere in the Pacific (but quite like Fiji). The book has the feel of a fable as the characters are in many ways unreal. This is especially the case of the old man in the canoe and the co-joined twins who are different genders. This quality doesn't detract from the story, however. If anything it enhances it.
   Ioane beats his wife and leaves the island only to return years later. He repeats this strange behaviour over and over, and throughout this time Amalia bears him five children. Each has a clearly defined personality and each is affected by their father's treatment of their mother.
   Eventually Amalia fights back and Ioane's life is changed forever. But his need to escape the island has been imprinted on one of his sons. And so the need for travel conflicts once again with the love for home in the next generation.
   I loved this book because of it's fairy-tale qualities, it's haunting commentary on relationships and death and the way the characters are bound to the sea. Tobert comments on the ocean in some way on every page, but the result isn't repetitious, it's beautiful.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Island Homicide by Catherine Titasey

My Island Homicide (UQP, 2013)
My Island Homicide is a crime novel, complete with a corpse, a range of suspects and details of police procedure. It is a crime story with a difference though, because it's set on Thursday Island, in the Torres Strait. I enjoyed reading this novel because of the snippets of creole throughout and the descriptions of island life. It made me want to jump on a plane and go and explore this remote part of Australia.
   The story goes something like this: Melissa, a missing person, is found dead in a well by the central character, the newly appointed Senior Sergeant, Thea Dari-Jones. Over a period of many months Thea falls in love with a local fisherman, adopts various stray animals, interviews suspects and eventually ends up arresting a man and sending him to court. By this stage the sergeant's love life has blossomed into something serious and she is heavily pregnant when the case goes to court. Throughout the whole story the threat of black magic lurks. I liked this touch as it is a theme I am interested in developing in my stories as well.
   Titasey has crafted a sound crime plot with interesting details and plenty of red herrings. My only criticisms would be that  the constant roll call of characters onto the page was confusing and some characters had little depth. I found I wanted to get to know them
better. Despite this, it was an enjoyable mystery.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Shark Island by David Miller

Shark Island (Oxford University
Press, 2009)
David Miller spent many years in South East Asia and his experience shows. Shark Island is filled with little details of island life: the smell of indigenous foods, the lush vegetation and the spray of the sea. I found this book fascinating for the way it described a little known way of life, that of the Sea Gypsies of Malaysia. One of the main characters in the book is young Jik, a Sea Gypsy boy. Jik's sea faring skills are considerable and his personality is endearing.
   Jik befriends Hannah and Ned, English children whose parents have been kidnapped. The three friends escape armed men in speed boats, elude helicopters and battle their way across the open sea in an attempt to find the missing adults.
   This book is non-stop action and the plot has great twists and turns. I think many kids would enjoy it for the pace and the depth of the story. A terrific read.