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

Saltwater in the Blood Surfing, Natural Cycles and the Sea's Power to Heal
In Saltwater in the Blood, lifelong surfer, marine social scientist, writer, artist and menstruality mentor Dr Easkey Britton has created a book that’s as all-encompassing as the ocean she so loves. At once intimate and sweeping, it’s a rousing exploration of the vital role the sea plays in personal and planetary well-being. Underpinned by a sense of mindfulness, Britton frames her book through sharing how she was personally shaped by the sea as a result of being from a family of surfing sea-lovers, and within the context of humankind’s longstanding connection to the ocean:&... View Full Review
The Complete Book of Vegan Compleating
Persuasively setting out to overturn commonly held views and cooking habits (“often the “rules” about cooking and food preparation are habits learned from our parents or from recipe books, so we don’t think to question why we discard some parts and eat others”), Ellen Tout’s The Complete Book of Vegan Compleating is inspiring in style, encyclopaedic in scope, and thoroughly practical. So, what exactly is “compleating”? As the author explains, it simply means eating “all edible parts of fruits, vegetables and herbs.” All too often we chop off ... View Full Review
A Greek Island Nature Diary
Written and illustrated by designer Jani Tully Chaplin, A Greek Island Nature Diary is a joyous journal-format ode to its creator’s love of the islands, as expressed through her detailed watercolours and personal observations of nature and the shifting seasons. Having lived in Corfu, the author’s immersion in - and love for - this alluringly beautiful part of the world is infectious. Through spreads dedicated to different species of plant, flower, tree and animal, she shares her personal encounters with these natural wonders, alongside fascinating information about connected mythology, folklore, medicinal uses, and literature. Take the ... View Full Review
Vow of Silence
“Nuns being abusive? How could they? They were servants of God. They were revered and feared in equal measure by the community. But behind the doors of the church they were simply just feared by the children they ruled over”. So author Suzanne Walsh shares in the opening pages of Vow of Silence, breaking her silence in the hope “it will help other victims come to terms with what happened”. This also sets the style and tone for the rest of this affecting memoir, beginning with the first terror Walsh and her siblings experienced when they ... View Full Review
On Gallows Down
Passionate and poetically compelling, Nicola Chester’s On Gallows Down is a rich and rewarding must-read for nature-lovers, and for readers who adored H is for Hawk.  Charting a life lived in - and through - rural landscapes, Chester writes with a painterly eye. Her descriptions of nature and wildlife are staggeringly evocative - sensory, but never overblown or sentimental. Rather, her style has an elegant, measured beauty as she tells a personal story of protest and resistance, of a profound connection to the earth and nature, to offer a story of hope and connectedness in fractured times. ... View Full Review
Empress & Aniya
From Queenie to Empress, Candice Carty-Williams’ first YA novel is a fresh, authentically engaging, read-in-one-sitting exploration of class, compassion, friendship and empathy that uses a fab Trading Places/Freaky Friday device to tell the tale of two teenage girls who form a life-changing friendship. Empress lives in poverty on a South London estate. Being a bright, young thing, she’s won a scholarship to a fancy school, where she’s thrown in with a bunch of privileged girls who (mostly) mock her poverty. It’s also where she meets Aniya, who’s assigned ... View Full Review
Lemon
Taking in the absurdities of life, misfortune and tragedy, Kwon Yeo-sun’s Lemon is an engaging, read-in-one-sitting novella of remarkable intensity. In some regards, it’s a crime novel, but one that turns the genre on its head to create an enigmatic emotional puzzle in which a woman warped by grief engages with the person she believes killed her sister. Back in 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became called the High School Beauty Murder. There were only ever two suspects, one of whom had an alibi, while no evidence was found to convict the second, so ... View Full Review
In Every Mirror She's Black
Through the finely-nuanced narratives of three Black women from very different backgrounds, Lola Akinmade Åkerström's In Every Mirror She’s Black is a remarkable feat of fiction. Teeming with hope, desire, struggle and love, this powerful page-turner pulls no punches as its engagingly three-dimensional characters strive for better lives in a world that makes it anything but easy for them to be themselves. It also dismantles any notion of there being a monolithic Black culture, and lays bare the unjust multiple standards by which Black women are judged - and all this through dazzling story-telling that ... View Full Review
A Woman Made of Snow
Rich with romance, mystery and family drama, Elisabeth Gifford’s A Woman Made of Snow is a delicious treat for readers who like their historic fiction seasoned with haunting atmosphere. It’s 1949 and Caro and Alasdair Gillan are newly married Cambridge graduates living near his Scottish family home. Though elegant, crumbling Kelly Castle has seen better days, and hides many secrets, as Caro discovers when she accepts her mother-in-law’s suggestion that she research the Gillan family history. Her academic career curtailed when she falls pregnant soon after marriage, Caro is glad to have something to occupy ... View Full Review
Lockdown Secrets
Shifting from shocking confessions, to relatable emotions and experiences, Eleanor Tattersfield’s Lockdown Secrets is an ingenious concept of a book that will make an entertaining and elegant gift. It all began back in the dark days of a long COVID lockdown, when designer Eleanor Tattersfield heard a podcast about a 1980s answering machine confession line, leading her to “wonder what might happen if people had a similar opportunity at this strangest of times to document their own lockdown confessions.” Somewhat fortuitously, later that day, Eleanor found a box of unused postcards from the 1930s - “... View Full Review
Not Here To Be Liked
Refreshing, funny and packed with essential feminist themes, not to mention an authentic, engaging protagonist in Eliza Quan (a no-nonsense teenager who doesn’t give two hoots about what people think of her), Michelle Quach’s Not Here To Be Liked is at once deliciously entertaining and empowering. With pithy observations like “Girls get judged for their past; guys get judged for their potential”, it’s also a thought-provoking reminder (if one were needed) that there’s some way to go before patriarchal structures are disassembled - thanks goodness, then, that Eliza ... View Full Review
Sugar, I Love You Knockout recipes to celebrate the sweeter things in life
Infused with an infectious, unadulterated, no-guilt passion for the sweet stuff, Ravneet Gill’s Sugar, I Love You is ideal for anyone who wants to take their baking to the next level. What’s more, it’s easy-to-follow, with Gill’s demystifying, straight-talking, witty approach as central to the book as her love of sugar. It also bursts with photos that are every bit as vibrant as the recipes (and their author, for that matter). Covering Biscuits, Cakes, Cheesecakes, Sweet Doughs, Fried Delights, Entrements, Ice creams and Plated Desserts, each chapter of Sugar, I Love You ... View Full Review