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Joanne Owen - Editorial Expert

Joanne Owen is a writer, reviewer and workshop presenter whose lifelong love of books began when she was growing up in Pembrokeshire, Wales. An early passion for culture, story and folklore led her to read archaeology and anthropology at St John’s, Cambridge, after which she led the UK children’s book team for a major international retailer, going on to market books for Bloomsbury, Macmillan, Walker Books, Nosy Crow and Rough Guides. She now divides her time between writing, travel writing, reviewing and hosting writing workshops.

Joanne is the author of several books for children and young adults, among them the Martha Mayhem series, the Carnegie Medal-nominated Puppet Master, and You Can Write Awesome Stories, a how-to guide to creative writing. She’s also worked on a major community story project for the National Literacy Trust (Story Quest), and a number of travel guides, including The Rough Guide to Responsible Wales and guidebooks to the Caribbean region. In additional, she’s an occasional chair of LoveReading LitFest events, and judge for the 2023 Branford Boase Award.

Latest Features By Joanne Owen

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Latest Reviews By Joanne Owen

Nowhere Island
With its stellar storytelling, and unique, unforgettable characters, Tania Unsworth’s Nowhere Island is a fresh, thought-provoking survival-in-the-wild adventure. Both nuanced and immediate, Nowhere Island gets to the heart of human bonds in an arresting voice that speaks of, and to, young minds. It also transcends age boundaries, and really is a wonder for all ages.    “Gil was five years old when his parents were drowned in a kayaking accident.” Now twelve, after spending “his whole life being taken to one place after another” in the foster care system, ... View Full Review
Oddney's Otherland
Created by a husband and wife duo — acclaimed fantasy artist Rodney Matthews and writer Sarah Matthews — Oddney's Otherland is a madcap magical mystery that kicks off when retired naturalist Professor Oddney discovers a strange secret realm at the end of a tunnel beneath his shed. Accompanied by his trusty sidekick, Magnus the talking magpie, Oddney enters Otherland and embarks on a quest to find The Two-Headed Firedrake — a seemingly impossible task, given that the firedrake is said to reside on “a volcanic island surrounded by a lake full of ferocious fiends”. Presented as a fancy ... View Full Review
The Final Gambit
“This was Hawthorne House. There would always be another mystery…This was the beginning…and I was ready to be bold”. So ended the previous novel in the enigmatic, dripping-with-wealth-and-mystery Inheritance Games series, and The Final Gambit picks up the baton in edge-of-your-seat style. Avery’s year in Hawthorne House has almost come to an end, which means she’s on the verge of fulfilling the condition of Tobias Hawthorne’s inheritance. On the cusp of becoming the richest teenager in the world. Over the past year, she and the handsome Hawthorne bros ... View Full Review
The Hawthorne Legacy
With an almighty bombshell dropped at the end of The Inheritance Games, Jennifer Lynn Barnes set the stage exquisitely for The Hawthorne Legacy, the second book in an exhilarating series that’ll satisfy a huge range of reader types — from romance addicts, to fans of rip-roaring mysteries. What’s more, though laced with tightly-crafted, complex plot twists, The Inheritance Games series is written in an immediately engaging style that’ll grip even the most reluctant of readers. “If there’s one thing I’d learned about Tobias Hawthorne, it was that he was ... View Full Review
The Inheritance Games
When eccentric billionaire Tobias Hawthorne leaves his multi-billion fortune — including all his properties — to Avery, a stranger who came from nothing — the Hawthorne Brothers are blindsided, to say the least: “What kind of person does that to their own flesh and blood?” Matters are complicated when Avery learns there’s one condition — she must move into Hawthorne House. What a concept, and executed with page-turning aplomb as Avery and her new Hawthorne Brothers’ mansion-mates try to decipher the secrets and codes left by the late Tobias to find out why Avery was ... View Full Review
Lies We Sing to the Sea
In Lies We Sing to the Sea, debut novelist Sarah Underwood reimagines the Greek myth of Penelope's twelve hanged maids from Homer’s The Odyssey to present a richly detailed, sweeping story that will satisfy latter-day fans of fantastical fiction. Teeming with tragedy, romance and big themes — fate, sacrifice, desire and female agency — it relates an epic quest to break a curse and exact revenge. While some superstitious townsfolk had whispered about her having “mystical powers”, seventeen-year-old Leto has lived a largely unremarkable life in the kingdom of ... View Full Review
Yours From the Tower
Set in 1896, Yours From the Tower is a clever, compelling epistolary novel that dances with the magic of female friendship, romance, and thought-provoking presentations of its historic context. Told, in the main, through letters between three young women, this splendid story invites “then and now” comparisons as it reveals how restrictive life was for women in the late nineteenth-century, along with the era’s huge social divides. After leaving boarding school, best friends Tirzah, Sophia and Polly are on the brink of leading disparate adult lives. This comes as a result of their very different ... View Full Review
Drawn Across Borders: True Stories of Migration
Written and illustrated by award-winning artist and current affairs specialist George Butler, Drawn Across Borders is a unique empathy-inspiring portrayal of the affecting personal experiences of twelve migrants, covering countries as diverse as Tajikistan, Myanmar, Kenya, Syria and Palestine. It’s an honest, awe-inspiring tribute to the featured individuals, a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and a timely reminder that real people lie behind every news story on migrants. Real people with real (and varied) reasons for leaving places they once called home. Butler frames the book with brilliant clarity: “People move ... View Full Review
Freya's Gold
Atmospheric, with a twisty, compulsive plot that’s easy to become immersed in, Fiona Longmuir’s Freya’s Gold is Middle Grade mystery fiction at its best. “The cliffs of Edge were riddled with caves, some burrowing into secret smugglers’ passages in town…They made sound travel strangely on the beaches, snippets of conversation floating to you even when no one was around – soft moans disappearing into the misty air”. So the sense of mystery and menace is set near the start of this story, when Freya and her best friend Lin ... View Full Review
The Hidden Story of Estie Noor
Following its protagonist’s joyous journey to an empowering fresh start, Nadine Aisha Jassat’s The Hidden Story of Estie Noor is a beautifully-written, mystery-packed novel-in-verse. Interlacing a remarkable breadth of themes with nimble-fingered skill — from feeling unseen and unheard, to embracing mixed-heritage identity — it’s a rather special story. “It’s not like they say it is,” twelve-year-old Estie implores when she’s expelled from school. But, while Estie just wanted her mother “to hear my voice/the story I was trying to tell”, Mum “couldn’... View Full Review
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods
Ahead of a major Disney+ series, Percy Jackson is back in majorly epic, witty style, with The Chalice of the Gods being Rick Riordan’s first full-length, first-person novel from Percy’s point of view since 2009’s The Last Olympian. As such, this is an unexpected treat for long-time fans of the series, and also the perfect entry-point for readers who’ve yet to discover the joy of Percy’s mythological adventures - it also works as a superb standalone novel. Having saved the world on several occasions, The ... View Full Review
Culhwch and Olwen
Retelling a quest story from The Mabinogion — a collection of medieval tales about Welsh folklore and legend — Catherine Fisher’s Culhwch and Olwen presents an ancient love story for a new generation. Rippling with courage and magic, with a storyline driven by striving to fulfil the seemingly impossible tasks set by a formidable giant, it’s big on adventure, and rich in poetic language. Soon after he’s born in “the depths of this tanglewood”, Culhwch’s mother dies, just after declaring “the boar is a sacred animal for him. ... View Full Review