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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

Code Name Butterfly
Set in Paris in 1941, Embassie Susberry’s characterful, dramatic Code Name Butterfly was inspired by the remarkable real-life story of Josephine Baker’s role in the French Resistance. Laced with romance and glamour, it recounts the turbulence of wartime life in the City of Light with breezy atmosphere, adding up to an engaging story of subterfuge, courage and fighting prejudice. 24-year-old Elodie is a foreign correspondent in Paris. With the Nazi occupation of France looking imminent, she’s set on returning to Chicago. But everything changes when she meets handsome musician Grant, a compatriot who brings her ... View Full Review
The Night Side
Set in small-town Montana between the protagonist’s troubled coming-of-age in the 1990s through to dealing with disturbing secrets in the present day, M.M. DeLuca’s The Night Side is a thoroughly gripping thriller of the twistiest order. After escaping her manipulative, psychic scammer mom at the age of eighteen and forging a new life in England as an archaeologist with an uncanny, “impeccable instinct for finding the perfect dig spots”, Ruby is loath to return home when she learns her mother is missing, presumed dead. While there’s no body, all the signs ... View Full Review
The French Affair
Certain to captivate fans of escapist WWII fiction, Teresa Howes’ The French Affair juxtaposes a charming, fragrant sense of pre-war France with the horrors of Nazi occupation, including the requisitioning of homes and executions. At its heart is French journalist, Iris, who’s turned her hand to working for British Intelligence during the war while her journalist husband, Jack, reports from the frontline. Iris’ life is sent into a spin when an undercover honey-trap operation to bring down a traitorous civil servant goes awry, and Jack sees compromising photos of her in the press. In the aftermath, ... View Full Review
A Quiet Contagion
Slipping between two timelines, a web of deceit, corporate cover-ups and human tragedy unfolds in Jane Jesmond’s A Quiet Contagion — a slow-burn thriller that melds family drama and danger with questions around pharmaceutical ethics. In 2017, Phiney is utterly shocked when her grandfather Wilf jumps from a bridge to his death. Though there was a witness — Mat, a local journalist — she and Wilf’s widow struggle to believe he killed himself. And so the trio set about investigating what happened and why, with their search kicked off when Phiney discovers Wilf once worked for Poulter&... View Full Review
The Future
Exploring where the world could well be headed in terms of tech, climate change, and the power the wealthy few have over the poorer, powerless many, Naomi Alderman’s The Future is incredibly smart, incredibly suspenseful, and incredibly entertaining. Set in a near-future world, The Future is largely centred on a few billionaires who hold all the cards (i.e. money and power) when it comes to technology and having the resources to potentially survive the end of the world. In this world, it’s less a case of survival of the fittest, and more about survival of ... View Full Review
Playing Games
Centred on two chalk-and-cheese sisters, Playing Games — the debut novel from acclaimed short story writer Huma Qureshi — is engaging, accessible, and finely threaded with truths about love, loneliness, friction between loved ones, and dilemmas around trying to find your way in the world. On the face of it, Hana is your classic character who has it all. Two years older than her sibling Mira, she has a husband, a house, a degree from Oxford, and she works as a family lawyer. Mira, on the other hand, dropped out of her degree when the sisters’ mother died and ... View Full Review
The Little Prince: Wisdom from Beyond the Stars
Presented in a delightfully dinky, illustrated hardback format, The Little Prince: Wisdom from Beyond the Stars is the perfect little gift with a huge heart. The Little Prince itself tells a story of wonder, and the magic and power of asking questions, and this collection of soul-stirring quotes captures the beautiful essence of the tale, laying bare exactly why Saint-Exupery’s classic is such a time-treasured tale for all ages. The quotes also serve as a potent reminder of what matters in life, not least if adults can find a way to ... View Full Review
How Ready Are You For Love?
Created by the School of Life, How Ready Are You For Love? takes relationship questionnaires to greater psychological depths while retaining the vibe of a personality quiz.  Acknowledging the complexity of romantic attachments, this cute, compact-format trove is framed by the belief that “the blame for most of what goes wrong in our loves can be traced back to… a lack of self-knowledge”,  and the view that “love is a skill, not an emotion”. As a result, the 43 questions posed invite readers to ponder truths about themselves — truths that have an impact ... View Full Review
Kelsey Parker: With And Without You
Heart-rending, captivating and, ultimately, suffused in the promise of hope, With and Without You sees Kelsey Parker share her experience of losing her husband Tom, lead singer of The Wanted, and her first year as a widow. Relating details of Tom’s diagnosis with an inoperable brain tumour in 2021, through the rollercoaster of treatments and alternative therapies that gave him more time with Kelsey and their young children, to his untimely death and all those painful firsts without him, it’s an acutely intimate account of grief, loss, love and finding new light. Certain to move readers who ... View Full Review
Angie Thomas Collector's Boxed Set
A stylist boxset containing paperback editions of Angie Thomas' powerful novels, On the Come Up and The Hate U Give A review of On the Come Up: Under-your-skin powerful novel about a talented young black woman who refuses to be silenced. Bri is a smart hip-hop writer from rough, tough Garden Heights, the same housing project that provided the setting for Thomas’s remarkable debut, The Hate U Give. Her underground rap legend dad was murdered twelve years ago, leading to her (now clean) mom seeking solace in drugs. Bri’s dad’s legacy means she has ... View Full Review
Alice Oseman Four-Book Collection Box Set
(Solitaire, Radio Silence, I Was Born For This, Loveless) 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 ... View Full Review
Karen M. McManus Boxset
Review of One of Us is Lying: Five teens in detention are hit by a storm when one of them of dies. Outsider Simon, creator of the notorious Bayview High gossip app, wryly remarks that they’re all “walking teen-movie stereotypes” and casts himself as the “omniscient narrator” shortly before collapsing to his death. The question is, why was there allergy-inducing peanut oil in Simon’s water? And why were the EpiPens missing from the nurse’s office? His death seems anything but accidental and, since Simon had dirt on pretty much the ... View Full Review