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

32-year-old multi-lingual Nova works as an interpreter for the police. Blind since birth, an operation that restores her sight heralds the beginning of a bewildering journey to understand the world from scratch. The novel is brilliant in offering insights into Nova’s experience of blindness as readers feel her struggle to re-learn everything through her newly-opened eyes. While recovering from the operation, Nova meets Kate, who’s in hospital after sustaining a head injury. The women strike up an immediate bond, which becomes a tender friendship – and more – as they find they are entirely at home ... View Full Review
In a Nutshell: Mystery, memory, manipulation |   A feisty thriller that fizzes with intrigue, paranoia and a cast of fascinatingly flawed characters. For Jess “every waking moment is a flashbulb moment. I recall everything from the age of eleven like a never-ending motion picture,” which is why she became part of Professor Coleman’s intensive memory study Programme. Following a family tragedy and sick of Coleman’s invasive methods, Jess fled the study and assumed a new identity. She’s an engaging, refreshingly straight-talking narrator, not always likeable, but consistently clever and ... View Full Review
Gin-inspired joie de vivre and fresh starts abound in this surefire summer tonic for fans of Jenny Colgan. This spritely, lighthearted tale of loss, love and picking up the pieces with gin-infused panache sees soon-to-be-fifty-year-old Jen (Juniper to her loveably eccentric dad) take on the council when the museum she works in faces closure at the hands of a slimy local businessman and councillor she has history with. Jen has been having a tough time of late, what with her husband abandoning her for a younger woman, her son off travelling in Canada, her mum’s death and her ... View Full Review
In a Nutshell: Epic fantasy packed with passion and paranormal intrigue. There are dark dangers and dilemmas aplenty in this glamorous, gripping sequel to Lady Midnight, second in The Dark Artifices trilogy.  Part-angel, part-human Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs may have accomplished her mission to avenge her parents’ death, but a new dark shadow now looms over her Los Angeles hometown. As a Shadowhunter, she’s bound to her parabatai soulmate, Julian Blackthorn. They must fight together, even die together, but to fall in love – as they do – could prove fatal. Yet Emma cannot flee Julian to ... View Full Review
***Recommended for 16+ due to content. Book of the Month for May 2018 | Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018 |In a Nutshell: love, truth and the power of release | A gripping, soulful novel about a life-changing day, which will surely change the lives of those who read it. "Where on earth had this day come from? And where was it headed?" remarks 17 year-old Adam as a single day unfurls wave after wave of shattering disruption: first a revelation from his brother, next an ultimatum from his foul boss, then a destabilising announcement from his beloved best friend. And alongside Adam's unraveling, there&... View Full Review
In a Nutshell: Rebellion, romance and an imprisoned princess set on revenge  This ambitiously epic fantasy debut sees a captive princess rise from the ashes of her traumatic childhood to combat a cruel Kaiser. At the tender age of six Theodosia witnessed the brutal murder of her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury. Now, ten years on, and backed deeper into a no-hope situation by the cruel Kaiser who’s forced her to live in a degraded state as the Ash Princess, Theodosia is driven to concoct a scheme to exact her revenge. With the assistance of ... View Full Review
Regrets. Teacher Frances has a few. She’s 39, single, and beset by dissatisfaction with all aspects of her life - personal, professional and familial. Her dad vanished from her life when he was lost at sea when she was only five and now her mum is vanishing into the fog of Alzheimer’s. On top of this, her relationship with Jackson, fellow teacher, former best friend and one-timer lover, has taken a painful downturn following a night of wine-fuelled passion. As Frances is led to question her father’s disappearance, it becomes clear that she’s ... View Full Review
In a Nutshell: A feel-good feast of romance, writing and one glorious gran 13+  “When your whole family is obsessed with Love and Romance it sets some pretty high expectations, believe me”, explains 16-year-old Tilly, the witty narrator of this bright and breezy book. Tilly’s on tenterhooks as her grandmother’s highly anticipated romance novel is published. Nothing unusual there - aspiring writer Tilly has long been involved with Gran’s work, from filing, typing and researching, to suggesting improvements. But this book is different. It almost wasn’t completed, due to Gran ... View Full Review
In a Nutshell: Road-trip, romance, fame and friendship Surely one for fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, this smart coming-of-age story reels with romance, life lessons and big questions about finding your way.  Seventeen-year-olds Reagan and Dee are “friends for infinity”, but they’re also opposites: “In a fairytale, she’d play the good fairy. I’d be the evil witch’s screwup step cousin”, Reagan remarks with characteristic wryness. While Reagan has a history of bad girl behaviour (underage drinking, court appearances and picking bad boys), Dee is a ... View Full Review
In a Nutshell: Growing up and moving on, with an imaginary bear-armed best friend in tow |   A sublimely fresh and moving exploration of how it feels to be teetering on that giddy precipice between childhood and adulthood.   Marcie is on the verge of everything changing. About to leave school and head to university, she feels lost, left in limbo. She’s struggling with family, she has yet to discover her own dreams and she simply doesn’t know what she wants. Cue the re-entry of her childhood imaginary best friend, Thor, a boy with ... View Full Review
In a Nutshell: Sibling wedding rings the bells of change Everyone loves a wedding, right? Especially when you’re Charlie and your beloved big sister is about to get hitched with all your siblings reunited for the big occasion. Focusing on this event is Charlie’s only source of stability right now, what with her parents selling the family home, her Mom’s long-running family-inspired comic strip ending after 25 years, and her having to make huge decisions about her future. It’s the end of an era every which way you look at it, so this ... View Full Review
A brilliantly conceived Viking epic set in eighth-century Sweden. Bernard Cornwall meets George R.R. Martin in this ambitious, masterful series.   Action-packed, evocative and impressively grand in scope, this second installment of The Wanderer Chronicles is a veritable feast of character-driven Viking verve, fusing fantasy with history, and blending detail with brilliant broad brushstroke atmosphere.  The time and place is 8th century Sweden. Viking Erlan Aurvandil has pledged to serve Sviggar, King of the Sveärs and enemy of Harald Wartooth, King of the Danes. Thus when Wartooth stirs the embers of an ancient feud, Erlan is ... View Full Review