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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

Part of Sweet Cherry Publishing’s Jane Austen series, Gemma Barder’s breezy adaptation of Pride and Prejudice has been thoughtfully re-written and fine-tuned for a young readership. “A single man of good fortune must want a wife! And we have five daughters!” Mrs Bennet declares with delight on discovering “that a rich man called Mr Bingley had rented the largest house in her neighbourhood”. Propelled by their mother’s dogged devotion to see them married to rich suitors, it’s not long before the Bennet sisters meet Mr Bingley and the ... View Full Review
At once amusing and affectionate, this early Middle Grade novel combines real-world alienation with actual aliens! Harriet feels terribly out of sorts when she moves in with Gran while her dad works away, but before she’s even had chance to say goodbye to him, she learns that her hearing aid enables her to understand alien languages, such as that spoken by the Sock Muncha she finds beneath her new bed. What’s more, Harriet discovers that Gran is part of a secret intergalactic organisation that’s working to protect Planet Earth from an invasion of Sock ... View Full Review
Blending folkloric fantasy with contemporary romance, this immersive multi-layered novel heralds the arrival of a unique new voice in young adult fiction.   Each Christmas, Wren is hunted in a twisted, tormenting re-enactment of an old game. But the village bullies don’t realise that Wren is part of the Augur family, formerly powerful kinfolk whose magical influence was all but obliterated by the Judges. When Wren is captured in the hunt and a boy claims a lock of her hair, she must become a spy in the house of the most powerful Judge of all.   ... View Full Review
Exploring the all-consuming throes of love, malicious secondary school social politics, sexual abuse, and how difficult coming out can be, William Hussey’s Hideous Beauty is a top-notch YA thriller with hard-hitting emotional resonance. Forced by social media exposure to come out earlier than planned, Dylan and his gregarious boyfriend Ellis reveal their relationship to the world in spectacular style at a school dance: “Okay, Dylan, this is it. No going back. The closet door is firmly barred behind you, chained and bolted. No re-entry, no refunds. It’s gay all the way from here on out.&... View Full Review
Following on from Lily’s Just Fine, this Scottish seaside-set romance tackles issues of self-confidence and coming-of-age confusion with a lovely lightness of touch. Alongside a sweet rollercoaster romance, the author explores how difficult it can be to find your way in the world, how difficult it is to make life-changing decisions.   Gemma is one of life’s self-doubters. Painfully unsure of herself, she’s the polar opposite of her super-confident, super-enthusiastic best friend Lily, whom we met in the first of this four-book series. A talented musician, Gemma’s been offered an audition at ... View Full Review
Nothing is what it seems in Alex Bell’s spritely, spooky novella that sees a girl figure out the sinister secrets of a toy factory. An atmosphere of underlying mystery is keenly evoked from the off: “The children of Cherryville all knew the factory was an evil place. Something awful had happened inside five years ago. It was something kids still whispered about in the playground and used to frighten each other at sleepovers.” And in the way of all creepy rumours, “None of the children in the town knew the truth for sure. They just ... View Full Review
From the multi-award-winning author of The Poet X and With the Fire on High comes Elizabeth Acevedo’s exceptional dual-voiced novel about loss, love and sisterhood across the sea, a story partly sparked by the fatal crash of a flight from NYC to Santo Domingo in 2001.   Camino Rios has always lived in the Dominican Republic with her aunt Tia, “a woman who speaks to the dead, who negotiates with spirits”, a woman who’s like a mother to her: “Even when Mama was alive, Tia was the other mother of my heart.” Life&... View Full Review
At seventeen, Brooklyn hipster Cal is a successful social media journalist accustomed to living in the public eye, with a whopping 435,000 followers on the FlashFame app. But even Cal isn’t ready for the unforgiving media storm he’s thrust into when his pilot dad is shortlisted for NASA’s Orpheus mission to Mars. Initially dead against leaving Brooklyn, Cal begins to wonder whether “maybe Clear Lake, Texas, has a story out there just waiting for me to uncover.” And then there’s handsome Leon, one of the other “Astrokids”, who’... View Full Review
Uplifting and dazzlingly unique, this coming-of-age treasure explores identity and sexuality with an emboldening message to remember that “you have the right to be you”. As a young Barbie-loving boy, mixed race Michael wonders if he’s “only half” of everything, to which his mother poignantly replies: “Don’t let anyone tell you/that you are half-black/and half-white. Half-Cypriot/ and half-Jamaican./ You are a full human being.” But he doesn’t feel like a whole human being. Dubbed a “queerdo and weirdo” by bullies and subjected to “... View Full Review
Set ten years after the events of Dragon Daughter, which featured revolutionary dragon-rider Milla, this sparkling sequel tells the story of Milla’s cousin, Joe. On his twelfth birthday Joe is out-of-this-world excited about attending the Hatching Ceremony, desperately hoping that this is the day he’ll be bonded with a dragon. But when Joe inadvertently ruins the ceremony and Milla must step in to rescue the situation, “Joe fled from his parents’ home, knowing he’d never be able to return.”    Ashamed to his bones, Joe has an epiphany after taking ... View Full Review
This first book in Liz Flanagan’s richly detailed Legends of the Sky series relates the compelling quest of Milla, a principled young servant girl who works for Duke Olvar. Here on the island of Arcosi dragons are depicted in paintings, eulogised in stories, and have legendary status. At a self-aggrandising ball Duke Olvar declares: “The dragons are dead, like the former people of this place, perished in mystery… We remember them. We honour them… We are now the children of the dragon.” At this same gathering, an old woman denounces Olvar’s desire ... View Full Review
First published in 1975, this extraordinary story of the friendship between the gentle Tuck family and ten-year-old Winnie feels older than its years, but also of our age, in the magical way true classics do. The story is enthrallingly set-up by juxtaposing three apparently unconnected happenings during the “strange and breathless days” of a hot August. As the Prologue states, and as things turn out, “things can come together in strange ways.”   Dissatisfied at home, Winnie longs to do “something that would make some kind of difference in the world.” Certain this will never ... View Full Review