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Joanne Owen - Editorial Expert

About Joanne Owen

Joanne Owen’s lifelong love of reading and writing began when she was growing up in Pembrokeshire, and very much wished that witches (and Mrs Pepperpot) were real. An early passion for culture, story and folklore led Joanne to read archeology and anthropology at St John’s, Cambridge, after which she worked as a bookseller, and led the UK children’s book buying team for a major international retailer. During this time, Joanne also wrote children’s book previews and features for The Bookseller, covering everything from the value of translated fiction, to the contemporary YA market. Joanne later joined Bloomsbury’s marketing department, where she had the pleasure of working on epic Harry Potter launches at Edinburgh Castle and the Natural History Museum, and launching Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. After enjoyable spells as Marketing Director for Macmillan Children’s Books and Consumer Marketing Manager for Walker Books, Joanne went freelance, primarily working for multi-award-winning independent children’s publisher, Nosy Crow.

Alongside her publishing career, Joanne has written several books for children/young adults. She’s now a fulltime reviewer, workshop presenter and writer, working on YA novels with a strong basis in diverse folklore from around the world, as well as fiction for younger readers (in which witches are very much real).

Latest Reviews By Joanne Owen

What a majestic conjuration of Middle Grade magic this is – think Alice in Wonderland in a dazzling theatrical setting. The year is 1870 and Celeste is a lowly orphan who runs errands in a Royal Opera House. She wakes one day haunted by a dream in which an enigmatic emerald suited-man spoke ominously of her involvement in a game called the Reckoning. Celeste recalls a shipwreck from the dream too and then, back in what appears to be real life, the opera house’s huge galleon-shaped crystal chandelier splinters into a thousand pieces and everyone thinks Celeste is someone ... View Full Review
This thirteenth instalment of the extensive Tales of Ramion series of fantasy adventures drags readers deep underwater to the realm of a “cold imperious” mermaid Queen who, among other things, takes sadistic pleasure in the humiliation of mermen. This mystifying adventure begins with witch Griselda declaring to her pet skull Boris that they’re going to holiday in a castle that belongs to her Pembrokeshire-dwelling cousin. But first - for a reason that’s left unexplained – Griselda announces that “before we go I must make a spell to change the holiday plans of some ... View Full Review
This first book in a new Shadowhunters spin-off series is a flavoursome feast for Cassie Clare fans. Co-written with Wesley Chu, it’s rich in action, romance and satisfying backstory detail about Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they race around Europe after the Mortal War. Magnus and Alec’s romantic vacation swiftly sours when an old friend turns up with news that a cult Magnus founded as “a joke long ago” is gaining power. Consequently, the Spiral Council “have issued a formal demand that you, Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn, neutralize the cult ... View Full Review
Sara’s fantastical journey begins during a school trip to the Beijing Palace Museum when she’s shot back in time from present-day Beijing and finds herself inside the thousand-year-old Qingming scroll. In this time zone Sara meets an old man who warns her that the Gang of the White Fawn will kill them both if she doesn’t do as he says, namely deliver his saddlebag to a silk merchant called Wan Yi. While encountering famous fortune-tellers, storytellers and Imperial doctors, Sara draws on the wisdom of her grandmother’s stories to navigate her way ... View Full Review
Sara’s fantastical journey begins during a school trip to the Beijing Palace Museum when she’s shot back in time from present-day Beijing and finds herself inside the thousand-year-old Qingming scroll. In this time zone Sara meets an old man who warns her that the Gang of the White Fawn will kill them both if she doesn’t do as he says, namely deliver his saddlebag to a silk merchant called Wan Yi. While encountering famous fortune-tellers, storytellers and Imperial doctors, Sara draws on the wisdom of her grandmother’s stories to navigate her way ... View Full Review
This endearing character-driven treasure from the award-winning author of Dear Martin is a race-against-time romance replete with real-life hardship, class conflict and hope. Rico is a high school senior who works at Gas ‘n’ Go after class to keep her family afloat and then races home to look after her little brother so her mom can pick up extra shifts. In the intensity and exhaustion of this hamster-stuck-in-a-ball situation Rico’s lost sight of what she wants for her future, but selling a jackpot-winning lottery ticket gives her new focus: to find the little old lady she ... View Full Review
This first book in a new Shadowhunters spin-off series is a flavoursome feast for Cassie Clare fans. Co-written with Wesley Chu, it’s rich in action, romance and satisfying backstory detail about Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they race around Europe after the Mortal War. Magnus and Alec’s romantic vacation swiftly sours when an old friend turns up with news that a cult Magnus founded as “a joke long ago” is gaining power. Consequently, the Spiral Council “have issued a formal demand that you, Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn, neutralize the cult ... View Full Review
Told in narrator Newt’s distinctive phonetic English, this dark debut dazzles with originality and delivers a potent case for combatting inequality. Bearmouth is home to a grim mining business, where men and children labour under inhumane conditions to make their Master wealthy. They work under the earth, under the omniscient Mayker who - so workers are told - “sen us down into the dark Earf/To atone for the sins o our forefarvers an muvvers”. Naïve Newt hasn’t seen daylight in years, but takes pride in being taught to read and write ... View Full Review
New Yorker Leah is a tenacious, snarky queen of quips. She’s also an exceptional chess player but decides to give up the game after losing a match that, had she won, would have seen her move up the rankings to grandmaster status. Feeling the pressure of her mom and coach, feeling that she’s let down her beloved dad, she decides to get a tattoo, “proving to myself and the world that there is life after chess and that I’m not just a pawn for other people to push around.” Leah’s ... View Full Review
Written for and about “the swift and sweet ones/who hurdled history and opened a world of possible”, for those who “survived America by any means necessary. And the ones who didn’t,” this is an inspiring ode to the author’s forebears and to the world-changing feats of unforgettable Black American figures. Author Kwame Alexander’s initial inspiration for this book came in the year his second daughter was born, the same year Barack Obama became the first African American president of the USA. As a result, Alexander wanted his daughters “... View Full Review
Born under a blood moon, twin sister travellers, Kizzy - a brave, voluptuous bear dancer - and Lil - slight in frame and blessed with a beautiful voice – are captured after their camp is ransacked on the eve of their divining, the coming-of-age rite that would have seen them learn their fates. With many kinsfolk slain, the twins are enslaved by Boyar Valcar and set to work in the castle kitchens, where rumours about the notorious Dragon loom large over all the female slaves. Separated when Kizzy is snatched away, Lil escapes to search for her sister with Mira, ... View Full Review
At once fierce and otherworldly, this impeccably produced full-colour reinvention of Moby Dick sees multi-award-winning Patrick Ness display a talent for writing that transcends age barriers. It reimagines Moby Dick from the viewpoint of a pod of whales led by Bathsheba who, “like all whales, [I] hated men, and with good reason: their bloody killings, their sloppy, wasteful harvesting proving that they killed as much for sport as for need”. And so fulfilling her grandmother’s prophecy, Bathsheba and her pod live for the hunt. Led by Captain Alexandra they find themselves in pursuit of the notorious ... View Full Review
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