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Joanne Owen - Editorial Expert

Joanne Owen is a writer, reviewer and workshop presenter whose lifelong love of books began when she was growing up in Pembrokeshire, Wales. An early passion for culture, story and folklore led her to read archaeology and anthropology at St John’s, Cambridge, after which she led the UK children’s book team for a major international retailer, going on to market books for Bloomsbury, Macmillan, Walker Books, Nosy Crow and Rough Guides. She now divides her time between writing, travel writing, reviewing and hosting writing workshops.

Joanne is the author of several books for children and young adults, among them the Martha Mayhem series, the Carnegie Medal-nominated Puppet Master, and You Can Write Awesome Stories, a how-to guide to creative writing. She’s also worked on a major community story project for the National Literacy Trust (Story Quest), and a number of travel guides, including The Rough Guide to Responsible Wales and guidebooks to the Caribbean region. In additional, she’s an occasional chair of LoveReading LitFest events, and judge for the 2023 Branford Boase Award.

Latest Features By Joanne Owen

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Latest Reviews By Joanne Owen

The Second Hand Boy
True-to-life and sprinkled with life-changing magic, Jennifer Lane’s The Second-Hand Boy sees a young carer overcome bullies and find his way in the world through friendship and living out his astronomical dreams. A sure-fire winner for readers who love books featuring books, it comes recommended for its empathetic portrayal of mental health struggles, loneliness, and the power of friendship.   Billy’s life takes a downward turn when his only friend in the world moves away, leaving him at the mercy of school bullies, with no one to help him ease the burden of taking ... View Full Review
Lottie the Little Wonder
Part of the beautifully packaged Little Gems series (illustrated small-format fiction that puts young readers’ first), Katherine Woodfine’s Lottie the Little Wonder shares the inspiring story of the real Lottie Dod, who won the 1887 Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Championship when she was just 15, and went on to win it a further four times.  In the opening chapters, we’re transported to Lottie’s early childhood days in rambling Edgeworth house. While Mother ensures her children have everything they need — and more — she’s wary of letting them ... View Full Review
Most Haunted Theatres
The first in a new series of illustrated narrative non-fiction themed around paranormal investigations undertaken by Yvette Fielding — doyenne of ghostly detection — Most Haunted Theatres uncovers all manner of harrowing happenings in nine British theatres, from iconic London stages, to the haunted halls of end-of-pier playhouses. Each chapter kicks off with a run-down of the theatre’s history and ghostly happenings. Then follows an account of the author’s investigation of each theatre’s paranormal activity, undertaken with support from her Most Haunted team. From manic clowns and the souls of sailors, to faceless policemen ... View Full Review
Future Hopes: Hopeful stories in a time of climate change
Edited by Lauren James, this anthology of nine short stories themed around the climate crisis is undeniably hopeful in name and nature. In fact, as Nicola Davies states in her foreword, “dreams and stories are the seeds are change,” with the writers featured in this collection doing a grand job of sowing such seeds. From Oisin McGann’s adventure-driven story of Eyeballs, Tentacles and Teeth that sees a fishing community unintentionally deploy geoengineering techniques, to Tolá Okogwu’s heart-warming tale of family love and community food production, Future Hopes is nothing but engaging and thought-provoking ... View Full Review
This Book Will Make You An Artist
Encompassing thousands of years of incredible art history — from prehistoric paintings and ancient Roman mosaics, through to Dali, Kahlo and Jean-Michel Basquiat — This Book Will Make You an Artist is a fiesta of fascinating biographical facts, tips on techniques, and inspirational ideas for creating original art sparked by the works of 25 ground-breaking artists.   Among this book’s many merits is the fact it can be enjoyed by a wide age range of young creatives, with each gorgeously illustrated spread featuring information on the 25 artists, and the style and techniques they were known for. In ... View Full Review
The Fox Maidens
Inspired by Korean folklore, Robin Ha’s The Fox Maiden is a beautiful, potent graphic novel that sees a young woman find freedom from convention and a curse through compassion and love.   While training at the martial arts school run by her father, commander of the Royal Legion, Kai is mocked by male students. “Why don’t you just go and play with other girls?” asks one, while another incites Kai to retaliate when he claims Kai’s grandmother was a Gumiho, the nine-tailed fox demon of legend.   When ... View Full Review
Goddess Crown
Driven by the daring of a 16-year-old protagonist who’s guided by the Goddess, Shade Lapite’s Goddess Crown is a richly conjured feminist fantasy set in sumptuous West African- inspired Galla, a patriarchal kingdom that’s long conspired against women. Kalothia had “lived in the forest for sixteen harvests”, since the day her parents were forced to flee the palace during what was known as the “Great Upset”, after being exposed as enemies of the king. Now, on her 16 th birthday, her home and guardians are attacked by the king&... View Full Review
Where the Dark Stands Still
Inspired by the author’s love of Slavic mythology and childhood summers in the Polish countryside, Where the Dark Stands Still is an arresting feminist reimagining of Beauty and the Beast. The writing is beautiful — poetic and precise, delicate and mesmerising as a finely-spun web as it tells the story of a girl’s search for freedom from her past, and from her dangerous magic. Amidst summer solstice celebrations, Liska leaves her village in search of the blooming fern flower that might just save her: “She knows what rumours the villagers whisper: that she is a ... View Full Review
Countdown to Yesterday
Driven by an engaging first-person voice, Shirley Marr’s Countdown to Yesterday explores big themes with huge heart and empathy as James struggles to live between two homes in the wake of his parents’ separation. This comes in addition to dealing with the fact that he feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere: “How will I fit in at a Chinese school when I’m only half Chinese? I don’t even fit in at school.”   Feeling terribly lonely and desperate to hold onto happy memories, James spends his ... View Full Review
Where Sleeping Girls Lie
Bravo to Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé for creating such a compelling dark academia mystery that’s also layered with such potent depth. Though just shy of a whopping 600 pages, the pace and plotting of Where Sleeping Girls Lie is chef’s-kiss superb, with tremendous page-turning power propelling a tale of surviving loss, trauma and abuses of power amidst the dark halls of an elite boarding school.   Shot-through with suspense and escalating menace, the story begins when new girl Sade encounters trouble ... View Full Review
Rise of the Shadow Dragons Legends of the Sky
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
The Eternal Ones
Unpacking power and patriarchy as it shines a light on female struggles, selfhood, solidarity and sisterhood, The Eternal Ones is a fittingly epic finale to Namina Forna’s glorious Gilded Ones series.   If you’re new to the series, it’s set in a richly-imagined world inspired by ancient West Africa. A fantasy world in which Deka is a goddess-in-waiting, seeking the source of her powers to defend the people of her kingdom. Facing a race against time, along with internal doubts and external battles, the final act of Deka&... View Full Review