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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

True Genius: George Best
Published to coincide with what would have been Best’s 75th birthday, Wayne Barton’s True Genius is a must-read for football fans. What sets this apart from other Best biographies is its introduction by the Best family, rare archive images, and the author’s exhaustive research, coupled with deep insights and an affectionate, amiable style. As befits its subject, True Genius is in a league of its own. “Our George was a funny, kind, shy and intelligent boy. Then he belonged to the world, and he came to be perceived ... View Full Review
Wild Nights Out
Calling all outdoor adventurers who want to walk on the wild side by the light of the moon! While there’s no shortage of brilliant books to inspire and guide nature exploration in young adventurers, Chris Salisbury’s Wild Nights Out is the first nature guide to focus on night-time activities, which gives both the book and its activities a distinct and decidedly magical edge.   With a foreword by Chris Packham, this is a brilliant book for grown-ups to use with 7+-year-olds who share their passion for the great outdoors. The text addresses adults, as opposed to ... View Full Review
Mosaic: Life in Pieces
Chris Aslan’s Mosaic is an atmospheric novel underpinned by Christian spirituality. Rich in historic and cultural detail, the writing is visual and sensory, evoking the book’s first-century Middle Eastern setting in vivid technicolour. It’s also shot-through with a young woman’s trials and tragedies, and the hopes that bud in the wake of hearing about a miracle worker. Tabita‘s tale opens with her “seething at how unfair life is” as she picks stones from dried lentils in the afternoon sun of her mountain village. It’s ... View Full Review
Mosaic Life in pieces
Chris Aslan’s Mosaic is an atmospheric novel underpinned by Christian spirituality. Rich in historic and cultural detail, the writing is visual and sensory, evoking the book’s first-century Middle Eastern setting in vivid technicolour. It’s also shot-through with a young woman’s trials and tragedies, and the hopes that bud in the wake of hearing about a miracle worker. Tabita‘s tale opens with her “seething at how unfair life is” as she picks stones from dried lentils in the afternoon sun of her mountain village. It’s located in ... View Full Review
Surrealist Lee Miller
Written and selected by Antony Penrose, Miller’s son and co-founder of the Lee Miller Archives, Surrealist Lee Miller is a stunning presentation of 100 of her most remarkable surrealism-suffused images. Presented in an elegant compact format and contextualised by an engaging extended essay, this really is the perfect gift for dedicated devotees of surrealism, and for photography lovers more broadly - Miller’s unique eye and style never fails to provoke thought and arouse new ways of seeing the world. In an essay that gives an excellent overview of Miller’s life and work, Penrose observes ... View Full Review
Grim Glory. Lee Miller's Britain at War
Featuring 75 images (fifty of them full page), and an engrossing extended essay by Ami Bouhassane, Miller’s granddaughter and Co-Director of the Lee Miller Archives, Grim Glory: Lee Miller’s Britain at War is the perfect primer to Lee Miller’s inimitable coverage of Blitz-time Britain. For context, a book called Grim Glory: Pictures of Britain Under Fire was published in 1941, the British edition of a book originally intended for an American audience. Miller was the largest contributor to this, and the only credited photographer. Skipping back a few years, 1939 saw Miller move from Egypt to Britain, ... View Full Review
Lee Miller. Fashion in Wartime Britain
Perhaps best known for her seminal WWII photojournalism, or her earlier life as a surrealist model and muse, or her sublimely striking solarised portraits, Lee Miller was also an exceptional fashion photographer, whose work illuminated the pages of British Vogue (Brogue) from 1939 to 1944. Featuring over 130 images, plus an excellent contextualisation essay by Ami Bouhassane, Miller’s granddaughter and Co-Director of the Lee Miller Archives, Lee Miller: Fashion in Wartime Britain is a breathtakingly beautiful, informative book - clearly a must-have for Lee devotees, and also essential for those interested in forties fashion and style. Since many of the images ... View Full Review
Sorrowland
From its arresting opening (“The child gushed out from twixt Vern’s legs ragged and smelling of salt. Slight, he was, and feeble as a promise”), Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is an exquisite fusion of folkloric atmosphere and raw human experience. Through the eyes of unforgettable, invincible Vern, and in luminously commanding language, Solomon explores racism, religion, misogyny and motherhood with magnificent boldness.  Fifteen-year-old Vern’s firstborn arrived in the world without his mother’s albinism and his father’s “yellow-bonedness”. His skin was “dark-dark, and Vern found it ... View Full Review
Chasing Smoke: Cooking over Fire Around the Levant
Honey & Co’s Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich have struck culinary gold in Chasing Smoke, a gorgeous grill-focussed cookery book that takes readers on a tasty tour of the authors’ favourite food locations - rural Jordan, Alexandria, southern Turkey, Israel, Thessaloniki - with all manner of dishes and eateries covered, from kerbside kebab joints to swanky grill houses. Organised by food type (fruit and veg; fish and seafood; birds; lamb and other meat; bread and unmissables), the recipes are wonderfully varied and easy-to-follow. Grilled peaches with almond tahini, chicken wings in spicy pomegranate molasses, ... View Full Review
A Girl's Guide to Being Awesome
From finding your sparkle (which the author defines as “unleashing the natural talent inside you” and "feeling and believing you can do anything”), to dealing with anti-social media, Suzanne Virdee’s A Girls’ Guide to Being Awesome is a pitch-perfect guidebook for girls navigating the confusing path to adulthood. The author, an award-winning TV journalist and radio broadcaster, contextualises her approach and advice through her experience as a tenacious, aspiring journalist who refused to give up. Sassy inspirational soundbites (“life is tough but so are you”; “success ... View Full Review
Dangerous Remedy
Kat Dunn’s deliciously dark debut - the first in a series - is a riot of rebellion, ruthlessness and extraordinary science interlaced with the all-consuming love between two young women in post-Revolution Paris.    Following the revolution, France had been filled with the hope of “finding a better, fairer way to rule” but now, five years on, “people still starved, inequality continued. The country splintered and the different factions spat at each other like a serpent with many heads.” And in such explosive circumstances Camille, the daughter of a revolutionary, ... View Full Review
The Bread the Devil Knead
Written in its unforgettable protagonist’s captivating Trinidadian voice, Lisa-Allen Agostini’s The Bread the Devil Knead is an exceptionally immersive read that resonates with the heart-wrenching rawness of a women’s lifelong abuse at the hands of men, and the seeds of her future liberation. Every perfectly-placed word, every perfectly-formed sentence rings with truth and strikes deep. Port of Spain boutique manager Alethea is about to turn forty. Thankfully, though, there’s one thing she can count on, “and that is my looks. I going on forty but you would never know it, because ... View Full Review