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Joanne Owen - Editorial Expert

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 Features By Joanne Owen

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Latest Reviews By Joanne Owen

Something to be Proud Of
Through authentic narratives that alternate between Imogen (“a chaotic, leftist, autistic bisexual who wants to be a stand-up comedian”) and Ollie, the gay captain of the football team, Anna Zoe Quirke’s Something to be Proud Of teems with real-life struggles, the magic of friendship, and the power of coming together to bring about change to be proud of. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also funny and ripples with unexpected will-they-won’t-they? romance. Having “long been aware that I inhabit a world that was built either by or for me”, ... View Full Review
Mind Games
Mind Games, Nora Roberts’ latest page-turner, is driven by a set of vividly-conjured characters across generations and decades. Rippling with the barely-contained undercurrents of family tragedy, and the implications of an inherited psychic gift that feels more like a curse, it’s tremendously suspenseful, and will have fans of the writer’s special brand of thriller on the very edge of their seats. “For Thea, the best part of summer started the second week of June” when her family “started the long drive from Fredericksburg, Virginia, to Redbud Hollow, Kentucky” to see her ... View Full Review
The Venus of Salo
Part of Ben Pastor’s Martin Bora series, The Venus of Salo is sophisticated, characterful and inventively twisty. Striking a brilliant balance between literary verve and lucidity, it’s a must-read for fans of gripping historic crime. It’s October 1944 and Bora is sent to Salò on the shores of Lake Garda to find out how a valuable painting came to be taken from a private residence: “It’s not just a painting…Why, it’s a work by Titian, Herr Oberst. Certified and worth a fortune. A spectacular Venus reclining on ... View Full Review
The Big Ask
One of the notable features of YA novellas published by Barrington Stoke is that they’re pithy page-turners — perfectly-paced, authentically-voiced works of short fiction across all genres that’ll keep even the most reluctant readers keen right to the end. In the case of The Big Ask, it’s all those things, along with being gorgeously romantic in a way that leaves you longing for more. Super-cute, unexpected, authentically funny and heart-flutteringly dreamy, there are so many reasons fans of YA romance should hope Simon James Green’s Barrington Stoke debut is just ... View Full Review
All the Pieces of Me
Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott have once again struck gold with this fourth book featuring the relatable, eminently likeable Tally, whose autism means certain things are much harder for her than they are for her peers.  For background, the series was born when Libby’s mum shared some of her writing online – writing that chimed with thousands of people who identified with her experiences. The diary entries featured in these novels are penned by Libby.  All the Pieces of Me will certainly resonate with readers just entering their teenage years. Being “autistic with a PDA ... View Full Review
All That's Left to Say
True to her talent for writing about young adults in the throes of huge crises, Emery Lord’s All That's Left to Say handles big topics in a style that combines the twisting plot of a thriller with considerable empathy. Almost a year has passed since Hannah’s wealthy cousin and best friend Sophie overdosed and died at a party. Now, while “grief has eaten through a part of me that won’t regrow”, Hannah senses a shift as “new leaves begin to sprout.” Through a slick “then” and &... View Full Review
All Our Hidden Gifts
Caroline O'Donoghue’s All Our Hidden Gifts is an accomplished debut - the first in what’s set to be an exhilarating quartet exploring friendship, love, responsibility, and the repercussions of supernatural gifts. Thrilling, funny, and tingling with the intrigue of ancient magic, tarot cards, and a troubling disappearance, it’s a multi-layered, myth-infused inclusive mystery that will have fans of edgy contemporary YA utterly enthralled.    Witty, endearingly self-effacing Maeve (“if I think I’ll get a laugh for it, I’ll do it”), goes to a posh private ... View Full Review
Can You Feel the Noise?
Stewart Foster, author of LoveReading favourites Check Mates and The Bubble Boy, has done it again with Can You Feel the Noise?, an incredibly honest, moving, insightful exploration of hearing loss, family support, friendship, and the magic of music. Sophie has wonderfully supportive, loving parents, a great bunch of friends in her band-mates, and she’s thrilled to have made it to the semi-finals of the local Battle of the Bands contest. Life couldn’t be sunnier, until the morning she wakes up unable to hear - after a few months experiencing some auditory problems, ... View Full Review
Star Struck
This fourth and final book in the hugely entertaining Flirty Dancing series tells the story of bad-girl Pearl, who knows what she wants and always gets it, like the leading role in the school production of Romeo and Juliet. Except this time, Pearl doesn’t get what she wants. Her calling to play opposite gorgeous Jake Flowers’ Romeo is blown off-course when super-cool, super-talented new girl Hoshi sweeps into the audition and takes the wind from Pearl's sails. While Pearl deploys her considerable cunning to try to mess things up for Hoshi, she finds herself drawn to her. ... View Full Review
The World Between Us
What a stirring sunbeam of a story, with characters you’ll care about, be moved by and take enormous inspiration from. Mapping the transformational bond between a girl incapacitated by chronic illness and a young artist, The World Between Us is shot-through with a resonant reminder to appreciate being able to do what seem like life’s little things - leaving the house, being by the sea, going to a friend’s party - all of which are beyond Alice’s desperate reach. It’s also an ode to the power of friendship, ... View Full Review
Girl (In Real Life)
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&... View Full Review
House of Kwa
From China, to war-torn Hong Kong, to Australia, Mimi Kwa’s riveting multi-generational memoir reveals how the past has a habit of gripping the present. Boasting the panache and painterly writing of a fine-tuned novel, House of Kwa shares powerful accounts of trauma, racism and dislocation interwoven with stories of strength, resilience and remarkable reinvention. It all starts with a shocking letter that sees the writer served with a Kwa versus Kwa lawsuit by her father. A “direct descendent of the Emperor of China”, he’s described as a dragon. The courtroom is his “stomping ... View Full Review