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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

As satisfying (and sweet) as the confectionary its unforgettable protagonist is an expert on, Jessica Scott-Whyte’s The Asparagus Bunch tells the chock-full-of-charm story of Leon and his fellow neurodiverse friends. Refreshing and endlessly insightful on Leon’s autism spectrum disorder, it’s a funny, thought-provoking delight.   Confectionary aficionado Leon is 4779 days old (“13 years and 1 month, if you’re mathematically challenged”), and lives with his mum Caroline who works at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. “Most people think I’ve got an attitude problem,” he acknowledges, but Caroline isn’t most ... View Full Review
Brimming with kindness, and voiced with humour by its adorable Charlton-obsessed protagonist, Adam Baron’s Some Sunny Day evokes all the fears and frustrations of pandemic lockdown from a child’s perspective. With a cast of gloriously authentic characters, it’s also a beautiful tribute to the work teachers did during the pandemic, and incredibly funny, with a mystery to boot. Cymbeline Igloo (Cym) is well and truly fed up of being locked down. His mum is super-paranoid about COVID-19 and takes social distancing to the extreme. She’s also obsessed with keeping busy, which is ... View Full Review
With an opening that couldn’t be more arresting – “Corpses. Each one female and young…They’re mounted on stakes at the mouth of the jungle” – Namina Forna's The Merciless Ones, sequel to her powerful patriarchy-confronting debut, The Gilded Ones, presents a thrilling return to the richly-evoked kingdom of Otera.    Some six months after she freed the Gilded Ones goddesses from imprisonment in the mountains and promised to “fight for all the women of Otera”, Deka is alerted to the rise of a dark power that she and her ... View Full Review
Multi-stranded and suffused in sapphic love, Cynthia So’s If You Still Recognise Me debut is a compassionate, cute ode to fandom, finding love, and finding your people. The novel also deftly explores the intersection of sexism and racism, homophobia, and abusively manipulative relationships while remaining a super-sweet coming of age story that’s populated by characters who will make many a heart melt. Elsie is British-Chinese, bisexual, and has a serious crush on Ada, who she met on a comic fandom forum. Though separated by the Atlantic, Elsie is about to disclose her feelings when Joan, her ... View Full Review
From the author of Black Heart Blue and Gloves Off - both LoveReading favourites - Wrecked is a breathtakingly affecting novel-in-verse that sees teenager Joe stand trial for causing a fatal car crash. Exploring thought-provoking themes around toxic relationships, self-preservation, truth and betrayal in an ultra-accessible, engagingly authentic style, this comes highly recommended for reluctant readers.   Framed within the context of Joe’s excruciatingly tense trial at which he pleads not guilty to a charge of causing death by reckless driving, his narrative slips back and forth through key moments in his ... View Full Review
This enchanting, empowering sequel to This Poison Heart, one of our 2021 favourites,  twists, turns and captures the heart through exquisite storytelling and world-building. Blending compellingly relatable characters with ancient magic, Greek myth, and a sweeping quest to save loved ones, it’s as lush and thrilling as the kind of flamboyant botanicals its endearing protagonist has the command to conjure.   Briseis has powerful ancestresses, and the power to create and control plants. Though she’s long worked to hide her gifts, she now has an opportunity to save her mother’s soul. In order to ... View Full Review
Exploring pertinent themes of identity, racism and resistance, A.M. Dassu’s Fight Back is a powerful, moving triumph. A gripping story that will support and inspire young readers who experience Islamophobia and racism, and enlighten all readers on how to be a better ally. Thirteen-year-old Aaliyah is into reading, K-pop, and loves her best friends Lisa and Sukhi. But life as a Muslim isn’t easy in a society that ripples with racism. After a terrorist bombing, she’s passed a note in class - “Is the London attacker one of your uncles? I heard ... View Full Review
While there’s certainly no shortage of fart-themed books for children, and no sign that the perennial appeal of parps is waning among contemporary readers, actor and comedian Stephen Mangan’s The Fart that Changed the World is a satisfyingly surreal addition to the canon of flatulence-themed fiction.  With crisply comic line drawings by graphic designer and illustrator Anita Mangan, this story of a king whose unexpected fart unexpectedly changes the world is sure-fire way for kids to entertain themselves. What’s more, it’s also excellent for reading aloud (the joys of being read ... View Full Review
A review for Loveless   Through the tangled identity struggles of authentic characters you’ll truly care about, Alice Oseman’s Loveless extends an understanding hand to aromantic asexuals (people who experience little-to-no romantic or sexual attraction, also known as aro-ace) while guiding all readers through fears of being alone and dealing with the pressure to hook up. Moreover, it’s a thoroughly entertaining, gripping page-turner that shows finding happiness isn’t dependent on romantic love.   Georgia is desperate to experience her first kiss before she and her two best friends head to ... View Full Review
Kicking off a new series in enchanting, gripping style, Brigid Kemmerer’s Forging Silver into Stars will thrill and delight fans of The Cursebreaker series that saw the author garner global acclaim for creating fabulous YA fantasy twists on timelessly appealing fairy tales. Forging Silver into Stars heralds a heady return to the richly-evoked worlds of Emberfall and Syhl Shallow, and here we also re-meet Tycho of A Heart So Fierce and Broken fame, who voices one of the novel’s three narratives. Four years after Grey took control of Emberfall, magic is still outlawed in Syhl Shallow, ... View Full Review
Driven by 10-year-old Harvey Small’s entertaining tendency to get into strange scrapes, Hannah Moffat’s delightful debut is Small in name and big on zany antics, with Rory Walker’s detailed illustrations adding to the wacky fun. Harvey’s tenth birthday sees him gifted a pair of stilts, a pair of oversized “sludge-brown dungarees”, a huge green velvet hat, and “absolutely NO football boots”. But, as it turns out, the stilts are going to come in handier than expected.  As a result of Harvey getting into a series of unfortunate ... View Full Review
Hurrah for marvellously magical grannies! This second book in Serena Holly’s glorious Granny Jinks series is a joy for newly independent readers, with Selom Sunu’s characterfully bold illustrations and themes of friendship, self-belief and community adding further depth and delight. What’s more, this story was inspired by Jenny Mayers, the first Black woman to be accepted into the Magic Circle, and shares secrets of a few magic tricks readers can try at home. When Granny Jinks and Jada head to a very important meeting to watch a very important person at the Dalton Green ... View Full Review
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