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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

There’s more sunshine, soul-searching and sticky situations than you can shake a Eucalyptus branch at in this scorching conclusion to a series that’s captured the hearts, minds and funny bones of millions of readers around the globe.Now sixteen and a fully-fledged sixth-former, Harriet the model, geek and complete control freak is embarking on a trip of a lifetime to Australia with best friend Nat (“Sartorial Genius, Temper-Loser, Truth-Sayer”) and her glorious grandmother Bunty. “We may be going Down Under, but I’m on top of the world”, Harriet ... View Full Review
Delivering big-hearted, big sisterly insights through smartly entertaining escapism - no mean feat, and something Holly Smale is brilliant at - Happy Girl Lucky is a riveting read-in-one-sitting page-turner. Just like Hope herself, Hope’s story fizzes with heart, humour and a sprinkling of Hollywood stardust, and kicks-off The Valentines series in style. Fizzily enthusiastic Hope Valentine is prone to malapropisms, and loves horoscopes and romantic movies. Oh, and she’s part of “one of the most famous families on the planet. A dynasty of movie stars stretching back four generations.” Hope cannot wait to turn ... View Full Review
Shot-through with a vital message about the importance of giving voice and rightful representation to women who’ve been silenced by centuries of patriarchy, this smart novel melds an intriguing art history mystery with Parisian amour. While Khayyam is clear about what she wants to do with her life - become a respected art historian - her identity is more complex. She’s “French American. Indian American. Muslim American. Biracial. Interfaith.” As such, “Others look at me and try to shove me into their own narrative to define who and what I am. But I&... View Full Review
Patrick Neate’s Small Town Hero melds a sensitive handling of real-life loss with alternate world weirdness to create a surprising, unique novel. There’s grief and gaming, family secrets and football, and the interwoven themes of loss and science will appeal to readers who liked Christopher Edge’s The Many Worlds of Albie Bright and are now a little older.   Everything changed for thirteen-year-old Gabe when his dad died in a car accident. First there’s his grief, which has created a “black hole inside me.” Then there’s his unsettling ... View Full Review
From the creator of I Swapped My Brother On The Internet comes this fizzily energetic feast of fun that sees aspiring inventor Keith get more than he bargained for after entering a Junior Mega Brain Quiz and winding up competing against his genius sister. Keith is one of life’s dreamers, and something of an underdog readers will really root for. He has his sights set on going to an Inventors’ Fair in Paris, but his mum and dad just don’t have the cash. Never one to let a problem stand in his way, Keith observes ... View Full Review
This is a reinvention of the most radiant, vital kind; an inspirational re-working of The Twelve Dancing Princesses to devour over and over, and to share aloud.  Following the death of his wife, Queen Laurelia, King Alberto “became the sort of person who ate a whole cake without offering anyone else a slice, and who punished his girls for things that weren’t their fault at all.” While Queen Laurelia had “been the one watching them, nurturing their imaginations, their educations”, the King takes away his daughters’ freedoms in the name ... View Full Review
The inimitable Louis Sachar has done it again in this new Wayside School caper. Sachar totally gets Primary age readers - sees the world through their eyes, speaks to them in a wry voice that rings with understanding and funny details. What’s more, the bitesize chunks of plot (essentially inter-connected vignettes that form a satisfying whole) keep readers hungry for more, while the off-the-wall (yet believable) comic characters are guaranteed to induce gaggles of giggles.   As a new year begins, Mrs Jewls’s pupils have a big bunch of stuff on their plates. An Ultimate Test ... View Full Review
Hot on the heels of Happy Girl Lucky comes this second book in Holly Smale’s The Valentines series – a wildly entertaining tale in which aspiring actress Faith seems to have it all, before realising she needs to shirk off the shackles of impossible standards and speak from her own script. Stunning and wealthy, with a mega-famous musician boyfriend – what more could a girl want? And coming from a line of talented actresses, Faith’s future as a major movie star is laid out before her like a red carpet. In her grandmother’s words, &... View Full Review
This awesome, rawsome, rhyming picture book chomps through gender stereotypes with wit, vitality and a whole lot of dinosaur dynamism – it’s a cautionary tale with swashbuckling twists in its T. Rex tail. And the message? Boys – beware of mansplaining dinosaurs to girls. “Dinos are for boys,” claims Ed, Maisy’s less than enlightened brother as he refuses to share his toys with her. But Maisy knows that’s simply not true. And besides, she doesn’t even need Ed’s toys because she knows T. Rex’s sister, who&... View Full Review
“We are all family,” says Mo, the Indian-born RAF pilot who becomes irrevocably connected to thirteen-year-old Joelle when his plane crashes near her Nazi-occupied French village. “I believe that all of creation is one whole. We are bound together, each of us, by invisible links, and all are equally important.” This uplifting ethos of equality ripples through Mohinder’s War, a story of solidarity and survival against the odds; of friendship and hope through horror and loss.   Joelle lived a “charmed life” in pre-war France, her English mother and French father kept ... View Full Review
“How can a dog and a girl who can’t see solve a crime?” visually-impaired Libby asks herself partway through this pacey novel by the award-winning author of I Have No Secrets. But that’s exactly what Libby sets out to do. Fearing her missing classmate Charlie is in danger, Libby and Kyle make it their mission to find him. As the perilous mystery unfolds, Libby’s story gives valuable insights into living with visual impairment, including the tactless comments and “help” from strangers that hinder her day-to-day life. Her determination is nothing ... View Full Review
As the tenth Hunger Games plays out, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the life, trials and roots of eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow, President of Panem when we reach the story of the original The Hunger Games trilogy. With the formally powerful house of Snow now teetering on poverty and ruin, Coriolanus is set on mentoring the winning tribute to escape “the endless dance with hunger that had defined his life”, go to university and then “embark on some lucrative profession”. But in a devasting blow, he’s assigned the task of mentoring Lucy Gray ... View Full Review