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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

The Food Almanac
A clever concept, delectably delivered - featuring a feast of recipes and tales to inspire readers around the table, around the year, Miranda York’s The Food Almanac will make a piquant present for gourmands and bibliophiles. With a bounty of stories, pieces of passion, stylish illustrations and reading lists accompanying the recipes, this is a book to relish over time rather than scoff down in one sitting, though the delicious results might make that quite a feat of restraint. Each chapter covers a month of the year and opens with a handy checklist of seasonal ingredients to look ... View Full Review
Time to Heal Tales of a Country Doctor
Michael Dixon’s Time to Heal: Tales of a Country Doctor is a timely, spirited call-to-action to restore “humanity to medicine”, and comes highly recommended for readers who like autobiographies with bite, and for those interested in discovering what it’s really like to be a present-day GP - warts and all. Moreover, one hopes that it might also serve as a wider wake-up call - “every society should be judged by what it does for its weakest. We are one of the world’s wealthiest nations,”&... View Full Review
Wild Neighbours
Taking us through the seasons, and covering eighty species, Sarah Cheesbrough’s Wild Neighbours is a lovingly-curated collection of photographs that lays bare London’s often overlooked wildlife wonders. As such, it will surely inspire city-dwellers to explore urban environments with fresh eyes. What’s more, alongside its inspirational exhibition of natural beauty, the book is driven by an ethos of conservation, and a belief that even in the most urban areas we can “be good neighbours” to wildlife. Having spent hundreds of hours in the field, and walked as ... View Full Review
Dark Tides
Continuing the immersive, suspenseful story began in Tidelands, Philippa Gregory’s Dark Tides is a sweeping family saga that takes in the poverty and wealth of Restoration London, decadence and distrust in Venice, and hope and unrest in the New World. It’s 1670, 21 years after the events of Tidelands, and Alinor now runs a humble wharf warehouse in London with her daughter Alys, while her grandchildren Sarah and Johnnie are apprenticed to trades. The arrival of two visitors shakes their existence. Firstly, James, Alinor’s former lover who once failed her and now comes offering to share ... View Full Review
A Nature Poem for Every Night of the Year
Companion to A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year and Friends: A Poem for Every Day of the Year, A Nature Poem for Every Night of the Year is an exquisitely curated collection that induces calm contemplation as it evokes nature in all its awe-inspiring forms - frozen lakes, majestic trees, creeping autumnal twilights, disquieting night winds, multitudes of birds, and much more besides. It’s a book to reach out to before bed, for pondering each poem will instil a sense of slowing down before sleep sets in, nurturing gentle focus ... View Full Review
Only Us
Stuart Dunns’ Only Us is an exceptional photographic celebration of humanity, with 160 pages of portraits of people from around the globe taken during the course of his career as a celebrated documentary filmmaker and photographer. An appropriate alternate title might be “all of us”, for all human life, from all areas of the world, is laid bare here - an incubated baby in Sheffield. Ugandan night fishermen at work. Thai monks on laundry day. Tanzanian hunter-gatherers. Canadian rangers protecting polar bears. A Newcastle native outside a pub. Having said that, the “Only Us” title perfectly ... View Full Review
The Deathless Girls
Born under a blood moon, twin sister travellers, Kizzy - a brave, voluptuous bear dancer - and Lil - slight in frame and blessed with a beautiful voice – are captured after their camp is ransacked on the eve of their divining, the coming-of-age rite that would have seen them learn their fates. With many kinsfolk slain, the twins are enslaved by Boyar Valcar and set to work in the castle kitchens, where rumours about the notorious Dragon loom large over all the female slaves. Separated when Kizzy is snatched away, Lil escapes to search for her sister with Mira, ... View Full Review
Follow F***ing Orders
Based on interviews with witnesses, victims and their families, a gang leader and his associates, along with public servants, police and lawyers, crime reporter Ann Tornkvist’s Follow F***ing Orders is a no-holds-barred, exhaustively researched account of the brutal 2010 murders of professional Swedish footballer Eddie Moussa and his brother Yaacoub. Their murders sent the town of Södertälje reeling and precipitated Sweden’s biggest ever investigation into organised crime. As it recounts the personal tragedy, with all its complicated layers and twists, the book is shot-through with personal flair - Tornkvist has a detective&... View Full Review
Why Are We Always Indoors?
Paul Armstrong’s Why Are We Always Indoors? is a slam-dunk account of the COVID-19 pandemic from mid-March 2020 to 21st June that Boris Johnson devotees might want to avoid, but should definitely read. On the other hand, readers enraged by the likes of PPE shortages, Dominic Cummings’s Barnard Castle road-trip eye test, and track and trace bungles will find a kindred spirit in Armstrong. It certainly packs potent personal and political punch. This London lockdown diary began life “as a way of recording daily reflections on the most bizarre football close-season ... View Full Review
Let There Be Time
In this frank and friendly memoir of alcoholism, Karolina Robinson is nothing but honest in relating her experiences. The down-to-earth style makes Let There Be Time highly readable. There’s no distance between writer and reader here - Karolina’s voice and conversational exclamations ring loud and clear throughout. “Alcohol was always a massive part of my life,” Karolina reveals at the start of her story. As a child, she associated her parents’ excessive drinking with freedom and fun: “I used to get excited when I saw my parents drinking! They were less strict, ... View Full Review
In a Time of Distance And Other Poems
Best known for his No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith’s writing is nothing if not warm-hearted, charming and filled with the joys of friendship - themes and characteristics that are at the heart of this delightful poetry anthology. Being a book to treasure and return to through the year (and across years), this will make a wonderful gift for fans of his fiction - even those who don’t usually read poetry. With sections covering the likes of journeys, Scotland through the seasons, animals, love and longing, books and reading, and places ... View Full Review
Romans at War
Setting out to show “how the Roman military changed from one always on the front foot, driving the borders of the Republic and early Empire ever forward … to one acting as the bulwark on the Roman limes as offence turned to defence”, Dr Simon Elliott’s Romans at War draws on the huge canon of existing literature on the Roman military, while also being informed by the author’s pioneering primary research. Elliott’s scholarly lucidity is shot-through with an engaging, entertaining style, which means the keen layperson will find ... View Full Review