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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

Never one to shirk from tackling complex topics head on, Melvin Burgess’s Three Bullets imagines future England as a horrific entity in which the controlling body, The Bloods, will stop at nothing to attain their vision of Britain as a country of white Christians.   Mixed-raced and trans, Martina (Marti) fits the The Bloods’ definition of “abnormals”. In her own words, “You won’t like me, not many people do”, and she’s certainly a complex, contradictory character throughout the novel. When her house is bombed, killing her mum, Marti and ... View Full Review
Striking a brilliant balance between providing excellent entertainment and exploring topical issues, Tamsin Winter’s Girl (in real life) tells a lively, LOL-some, life-affirming tale. At its heart is Eva, who’s lived in the public eye since birth. Actually, since before birth - her parents have been vlogging about her on their All About Eva YouTube channel since she was in the womb. While getting free stuff from sponsors might be pretty cool (at first), the idea of living an unfiltered life, free from the shackles of endless product-promotion, has escalating appeal, especially when Eva’s ... View Full Review
Friendship and family in all their complicated forms, domestic abuse, bullying, finding the strength to confront the truth - Yasmin Rahman’s This is My Truth packs a whole lot of big themes into its compassionate pages. The harrowingly authentic scenes of an abusive marriage show how male bullies operate in the domestic sphere - the control, the pathetic physical intimidation and harm they conceal from family and friends. This is powerfully important stuff, powerfully and honestly portrayed by the author of the acclaimed All the Things We Never Said. As Amani faces the stresses of her impending GCSEs (... View Full Review
Like its perfectly-voiced predecessor, Front Desk, I couldn’t love Three Keys any more. From its cast of adorable, authentic characters, to the gripping story of underdogs battling bad big guys, this is a sublime masterclass in Middle Grade fiction that pretty much all 8+ year-olds will adore regardless of their usual reading preferences - it’s a story that transcends literary boundaries as it explores divisive real-life boundaries in brilliant age-appropriate style. Kelly Yang is an extraordinary writer.   Life is looking sunshine-bright for Mia. Her family and friends now collectively own California’s Calivista Motel and ... View Full Review
The thrilling third book in Robert Muchamore’s Robin Hood series, Robin Hood Jet Skis, Swamps and Smugglers is shot-through with a strong sense of taking down the bad guys, and reels with rip-roaring adventure and perils aplenty. This is Robin Hood reimagined for our times, replete with a people-smuggling plot that takes in the plight of refugees and issues around modern-day slavery as Robin and Marion pursue their quest to quash corruption.   With a squad of former special forces soldiers set on handing him over to gangster Guy Gisborne, thirteen-year-old Robin is hiding out (and working out ... View Full Review
Adventurous and inventive, this second book in Patience Agbabi’s The Leap Cycle is a highly readable time travel adventure that shares information about Black British history and inclusive representations of autism through a zippy page-turner of a story. Endearing, brave thirteen-year-old Elle Bibi-Imbele is a Leapling - one of the rare people born on the 29th February, who’s all the rarer since she also has The Gift of being to leap through time. And beyond that, she’s also an Infinite: “I LOVE being an Infinite. The Infinites are a youth group who fight ... View Full Review
“Elizabeth North was one of the bravest and strongest women in the entire world. And I am going to tell you why”. Thus readers are introduced to How to Be Brave’s captivating story world in a manner that’s typical of its whimsical all-knowing narrative style. Adding to this, footnotes written in the amusing authorial voice are used to entertaining effect throughout the rip-roaring ride. To begin at the beginning, we are matter-of-factly informed that Elizabeth lived a charmed childhood that left to her muse “how much she loved her life. It was a ... View Full Review
Freshly following the swashbuckling, song-driven Go, Go Pirate Boat by the same author-illustrator team, Rumble, Rumble, Dinosaur (to be sung - or belted out - to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) is pretty much picture book perfection for pre-schoolers obsessed with these prehistoric heavyweights. And who doesn’t love dinosaurs, especially as imagined by Nick Sharratt in his distinctive bold, bright, ultra-engaging style, and especially when coupled with Katrina Charman’s joyful rhyming couplets? Using a day-in-the-life structure, the book follows a gaggle of dinosaurs who variously soar and swoop, stomp and stamp, munch ... View Full Review
Bold and brutally, brilliantly honest, Melvin Burgess’s multi-award-winning (and multi-layered) Junk presents the definitively frank account of why young people might head down a drug-taking path - and remain there. A love triangle, of sorts, between its two main characters and their addiction to heroin, once read Junk is never forgotten. It strikes deep with unflinching power, never shirking from truths that need to be told, which it does from multiple compelling viewpoints, and with incredible empathy.   Smart and thoughtful Tar has been blighted by abuse at the hands of his parents. In contrast, middle class Gemma ... View Full Review
Imbued with infectious personal passion as it shares expert information and plenty of practical guidance, Vicki Hird’s Rebugging the Planet is a brilliant book for bug-lovers of all ages and, given bugs’ vital importance to the upkeep and well-being of Planet Earth (let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the fact that bees contribute more to the UK economy than the Queen), it deserves to be enjoyed and implemented far and wide - at home, and in classrooms too. In fact, this is perfect for reading and implementing during longer holidays from school, or over ... View Full Review
Without question, Kelly Yang's Front Desk has leapt to the upper echelons of my all-time favourite novels for pre-teen readers. Narrated in lively, compelling, authentic style by the one and only Mia (who stole my heart from the very first page), this tells the soul-stirring story of a Chinese family’s struggles when they take on running a US motel.   As her family move into the Calivista Motel, Mia’s hopes and dreams run riot: “Our lives were about to change. We were going to become Disneyland-going people. As if things couldn’t get any ... View Full Review
Set in the world of gaming, Jamie Russell’s SkyWake Invasion is packed with peril, quips and gaming blips that turn out to have real-life repercussions.   Fifteen-year-old gamer Casey is a whizz at the SkyWake computer game and leads an online team. When invited to play at a live tournament in London she’s forced to come clean being a girl. With her adorable younger brother Pete in tow (he’s also a keen gamer), she disproves prejudice against girl gamers in the most unlikely and terrifying of circumstances when it turns out that SkyWake is ... View Full Review