my first manga haul

As you may know, I’ve been trying to branch out in terms of reading. Reading more translated works, listening to more audiobooks, and choosing from a wide variety of genres are all ways I’ve changed up my reading life in the past year. Giving manga an honest try is just another way of trying something different, and it’s one I’ve been loving.

I’ve never really gotten into manga or anime, and I have no idea why. I’m fairly certain I would absolutely love a lot of the stories out there. I guess I’ve always been somewhat intimidated by them… Exploring a new genre of format of media always feels somewhat terrifying, as it can feel like being dropped into an entirely new universe in which everyone knows more than you do. However, I can’t let that stop me from diving into this whole new world. Can anyone use that phrase without thinking of the song? Apparently, I can’t.

Since I hadn’t read much (or any) manga before, I wasn’t quite sure what my reading preferences in the format would be. Since it’s one I definitely want to read in physical format rather than digitally, I needed to purchase some first volumes to try. The best option, to me, was buying these secondhand. Used books are far cheaper than new ones, and it allowed me to buy quite a lot of volumes at a price I could justify. If I didn’t end up liking it, I wouldn’t have spent much on it.

You’ll also recognize most, if not all, of these manga. I decided to start with some of the most famous ones, as they probably are loved for a reason. Here’s what I’ve bought in the past 6 months or so!


One of the first series I bought volumes of is Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa. Last year, I purchased the first volume from Better World Books to give the manga a try. I read it earlier this year, and ended up loving it. It’s one of my favorites so far – which I guess might not say that much since I’m only just getting started in manga. I immediately bought volumes 2-7 used as well, which I’m currently reading.

I already know I will continue to buy this series, but will probably go for the beautiful 3-in-1 editions in the future, and buy them new. I’m certain I’ll enjoy them, so I don’t mind spending it bit more on the volumes. One day, I’ll replace the secondhand ones I have right now with the matching 3-in-1 editions too, but that’s for future Jolien to deal with.

I haven’t watched the anime, but want to save that for when I have read more of the manga.


When I purchased the first Fullmetal Alchemist volume last year, I did the same with the first Black Butler one. I also managed to read it in 2018 itself, and quite enjoyed it. I didn’t fall in love with it like I did with FMA, but it is a series I wanted to continue soon. So I bought volumes 2 and 3 used this year too. I’m sad that they arrived very damaged, especially since I’d been quite lucky with that so far. I think I will buy new copies at some point, but I don’t think they have special editions/3-in-1 editions for this manga…

Either way, I’m enjoying the story and will definitely continue. I’ll also end up watching the anime at some point in the future.


I discovered this app called MangaRock through a YouTuber, and decided to try it out. It’s an app where you can read manga translated by fans, as obviously a lot of manga never get translated to English. I Hear the Sunspot seemed really interesting to me, and it was the first one I read on the app. After finishing the first volume, I knew it would become one of my all-time favorites. I was obsessed with out. Some Google searches later I discovered that the first three volumes were officially translated and published. I immediately bought them all, new, and devoured them. I can’t wait for new issues to be released!

I read the fan-translated volume Limit 2 as that one hasn’t been released yet, but will definitely purchase it later too. If you have any information on whether new issues will be released soon, let me know! I can’t find anything on it, and I’m devastated.


I also purchased volumes 1, 2, and 4 of the Death Note Black Editions used. Did I forget I hadn’t added the third one to my basket before checking out? Yes. Oops. A few years ago, I tried to read Death Note volume 1 and didn’t really love it. I’m glad I gave it another try with the black editions. I read the first black edition in April, and discovered that the first half felt quite awkward, and the second half was great. I think the translation of the first volume might just be a tad weird? Either way, I really enjoyed it. I’m planning on reading Black Edition II in May, and buying the third one soon.


Out of all the manga I’ve mentioned in this haul, Blue Exorcist is the only one I haven’t tried yet. I bought the first 2 volumes in my most recent Better World Books order along with the Black Butler, Death Note, and Fullmetal Alchemist ones. I’ll definitely update you all in a wrap up once I’ve read them. I really hope I’ll end up liking this one too.

So far, so good on all the manga I’ve purchased recently. I’ve bought some other first volumes in random series, but didn’t want to include those in this haul yet. I bought them in 2018 and haven’t picked them up yet, but you might see them in future wrap ups. Have you read a lot of manga? Have you tried any of the ones I mentioned? Or do you have any recommendations for me based on these? I’d love to hear your suggestions, so I can buy even more in the future.

A little haul from my favorite English bookstore in Brussels

On a recent visit to Brussels, I had some time to kill in the city center while waiting for my friend to arrive. Since it was January, and thus sales month, I figured I was due for a browse in Sterling Books, my absolute favorite English bookstore in Brussels.

It’s not always easy to find English books in Belgium since the country’s official languages are Dutch, French, and German. Most ‘regular’ bookstores have either no section of books in other languages, or a very small one. That’s why I adore Sterling Books so much. It’s a bookstore that only has English books, and the staff speaks English as well. I can’t even remember a time where someone addressed me in Dutch or French in the store. Not only do they have all the beautiful books, they also stack some fun bookish items such as mugs, tote bags, and other merchandise. If you’re ever coming to Brussels, I’d highly recommend taking a look in the store!

The downside of the bookstore, however, is that their books aren’t cheap at all. While I was a university student, I lived above the bookstore – dream come true, right? – and became very familiar with their selection and workings. That’s why I know that during January they have their 50% off and 75% off sales. Actually, they hold these sales twice a year: once in January, once in July (or August).

Here are 4 books I purchased during their 50% off sale in January!

The City of Brass (The Daevabad trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty
I had owned a ebook of The City of Brass for ages, but never picked it up. For some reason, I find it very difficult to read long fantasy novels on my Kindle. There’s something about those huge, dense books that makes me want to hold them and see my progress with a bookmark. I finally read The City of Brass once I bought a paperback during this sale. I’m so glad I did, because this ended up being a 5-star read for me. It was so atmospheric and fantastic.

This is a fantasy novel set in 18th century Cairo following a woman who accidentally summons a djinn.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
I had seen some positive reviews on Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing, which is on my Goodreads to-read list. When I saw Her Every Fear in the store, I thought I’d try this one first to see whether I like the author’s writing. This mystery novel follows Kate who experiences panic attacks after an ex-boyfriend kidnapped and nearly killed her. A distant cousin of hers suggest they house swap for a while so she can have a change of environment for a while, so she moves from London to Boston only to find out her new neighbor has been murdered. This sounds like such a great mystery/thriller, and I’m excited to pick it up.

Maresi (Red Abbey Chronicles #1) by Maria Turtschaninoff
I’ve wanted to read Maresi for a while so I’m incredibly happy to have a copy of it now. This is a Finnish fantasy series about Maresi, who came to the Red Abbey when she was 13. Red Abbey is on an island inhabited solely by women, which is unheard of in a time when women aren’t allowed to learn or do as they please. One day, Jai arrives on the island on a ship, having escaped terrible danger. But the men hunting her will stop at nothing to find her. This sounds absolutely epic, and it will count for my ‘read the world’ challenge as the author is Finnish.

Empress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies #1) by Rhoda Belleza
I’ve wanted to read this book for a while, but it hasn’t been on the top of my to-read list which is why I’ve never picked it up. It’s one of those books I want to read but never actually think about when purchasing others. I spotted it in the sales pile though, and immediately picked it out. I actually am not entirely sure what this book is about – oops. Something about taking back a throne and outer space? Let’s go with that.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know which one you want me to pick up first! If you’ve ever been to Brussels, have you been to Sterling Books? Or do you have a favorite independent bookstore in your town/country?

3 books I recently found at my favorite secondhand bookstore

I recently rediscovered a secondhand bookstore in Brussels I really love. In October, a friend took me there and made me remember why I loved it so much. I hadn’t been there in years before that visit, and I’ve already gone back once since. One of the reasons I love it so much is that there are always so many people there. It warms my heart to see that many people browsing the shelves! Especially since it’s open every day – which doesn’t happen often in Belgium.

For those of you who are interested, the bookstore is called Pêle-Mêle. The location I always go to is at Boulevard Maurice Lemonnier 55, 1000 Bruxelles. The majority of the store is made up of French books, which is sad because my French isn’t good enough for that. I especially find it sad because they have a HUGE comics and manga section, but the majority is French. However, they do have English and Dutch (and some other languages) sections too, and the English one isn’t that small. I’ve found some gems every time I’ve been.

So what did I find the last time I went? 

The Fifth Season (Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin
I can’t tell you how excited I was to find a perfect paperback edition of The Fifth Season for only €3. I’ve been wanting to read this series for ages, ever since I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by the same author. She creates such incredibly fantasy worlds, and this seems like her most loved series. I immediately started reading it after buying it…

The Obelisk Gate (Broken Earth #2) by N.K. Jemisin
After I spotted The Fifth Season, I walked around some more. Hidden behind some other books, I found the sequel too! Another perfectly fine paperback for €3. I couldn’t believe my luck. Now I have 2 out of the 3 books, and only spent €6!

emperor of the eight islands

Emperor of the Eight Islands (Tale of Shikanoko #1-2) by Lian Hearn
I’m going to be honest, I picked this one off the shelves because of the cover. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Apparently, this author is quite famous so I don’t know how I’ve never heard her name before… The only thing I remember about this book is that it’s set in a medieval Japanese-inspired world. I’m kind of sad that the author isn’t Japanese, so I’ll keep my eye out for the representation but it does seem like an intriguing read! I found a hardback of this book for only €3. Can you believe it?

I absolutely love Pêle-Mêle, and I’ll definitely visit more often from now on. Do you have a favorite secondhand bookstore? Have you read any of these books?


Fall book haul | books I’ve bought in the past few months

I’ve collected quite a few books in the past 3 months. I don’t buy physical books often, instead making a few orders a year and buying books during specials occasions like YALC. I don’t know what came over me these past few months, but I’ve acquired quite a few books that I’d like to share with you today. I will say that most of these I bought secondhand, which means I didn’t spend all that much money on them. I’ve never been someone who needed their books in pristine condition, so buying books that have been read before and are possibly somewhat beat up doesn’t bother me.


While the majority of the haul is secondhand, I did buy 5 books new from Bookdepository.

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
I wasn’t planning on buying this until I saw it in their bargain bin. I believe this was around €4 for the paperback copy, which isn’t much at all. If I’m not mistaken, it’s a science fiction/dystopian novel set in the Arctic.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend
I read this as an e-book while traveling, and knew I wanted to own a physical copy. I absolutely adored this middle grade fantasy book, in a way I haven’t loved middle grade in a while.

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2) by Jessica Townsend
I originally made an order with Bookdepository because of this one. I wanted to preorder the sequel, since I loved the first book so much. Am I a tad annoyed that the paperback version isn’t the same size as the first book? Yes.

Rich People Problems (Crazy Rich Asians #3) by Kevin Kwan 
had to buy this one! I flew through this series, and have read it since buying a copy. I really enjoyed this series. I’m glad I finally picked it up.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
This is another book I bought because I saw it in the bargain bin, and it was like €4. I’ve always wanted to read a Gillian Flynn book, but not Gone Girl because I’ve already seen the movie. I quite enjoyed this dark mystery novel!


When one of my best friends was in town, or more accurately in the country, we went to a secondhand bookstore in Brussels called Pêle-Mêle. If you’re ever in Brussels, please visit it! They do have an English section as well.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
I bought a hardcover of this book, in perfect condition, for only €3! What a deal.

A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke
I haven’t heard anyone talk about this, but it sounds really interesting. It’s about a frozen island where the color of the sky has a meaning. A red sky is a warning.

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
This thriller has been on my to-read list for a while, and it was €1.5 for a paperback copy in Pêle-Mêle!

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey
This science fiction series has been on my to-read list for a long time as well, even though I have no idea what it’s about. I do know it’s quite famous!


I made my first order on at the end of September, and I’m quite happy with my purchases. They are full of stickers, but I can deal with that considering the price point.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
This is a retelling, sort of, of Jane Eyre in which Jane is a serial killer.

King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild
For those of you who don’t know, I’m Belgian. It’s unfortunate to say that we aren’t taught much about the colonization of Congo by King Leopold II of Belgium in school… I want to be more informed, so I’m reading this soon.

Black Butler vol. 1 by Yana Toboso
I’m starting some manga, everyone. I’ve always been intrigued by manga, so I figured I’d start with some popular series. These are pretty cheap secondhand too! I’ve already read this one, and know I’ll be continuing with it.

Ouran High School Host Club vol. 1 by Bisco Hatori
I’ve already watched the anime, and absolutely loved it. So I’m really excited to read the manga too!

Fruits Basket vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya
This is another incredibly famous manga, which means I have to give it a try.

Kushiel’s Dart (Phèdre’s trilogy #1) by Jacqueline Carey
This is such a well-known fantasy series, especially on Reddit. As a lover of the fantasy genre, I can’t not read it.

Train Man by Hitori Nakano
I talked about this book in my backlist books I want to read for a Top Ten Tuesday. This just sounds adorable!

Night by Elie Wiesel
This is an incredibly short nonfiction book, in which the author talks about his experience in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

The Dinner by Herman Koch
This seems like an interesting novel. It’s set during a dinner with two families, and has something to do with a scandal/secret and the police.

Attack on Titan vol. 1 by Hajime Isayama
Another incredibly famous anime/manga I need to start.

The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
I bought this because Olive (abookolive on YouTube) mentioned this in her books that are similar to The Secret History video.

Heir to Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters #4) by Juliet Marillier
This was so cheap! I adore this series, and want to start collecting it. I don’t think I’ve ever read the fourth book though.

Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 1 by Hiromi Arakawa
Same principle as the ones above, I want to read more manga so I’m starting with some popular ones to see what I like.

We Were There vol. 1 by Yuki Obata
This was a random manga pick. It was cheap, and looked interesting. I have to admit I don’t remember the synopsis anymore…

The Keeper of Lost Causes (Department Q) by Jussi Adler-Olsen
This is a Danish crime novel, and I’m so looking forward to reading it.

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1) by Jonathan Stroud
One of my amazing friends (Annemieke @ A Dance with Books) loves this series, and I have never read it. Therefore, I must change that.

I haven’t bought this much in a few months in a while! I’m genuinely excited about all of these though, and have already read some as well. Have you read any of these? Which books did you buy recently?

august library haul

I went to the library for the first time in months! Last year, I was obsessed with my local library and visited quite frequently. For some reason, I didn’t do that this year. I decided to change that last week, and my mom and I went for a quick browse of their shelves.

I was so surprised by some of the new additions to the English section (which isn’t very large) because there were quite a bit new-ish YA and diverse books! My library’s English section isn’t very big, because the majority of it is Dutch (fairly obvious, since I live in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium). The English books we do usually get lean more towards adult contemporary fiction, adult mystery novels and classics. I was so excited when I found all these gems on the shelves!

American Panda by Gloria Chao // I’m so excited about this book, even though I’ve heard mixed reviews on it. It’s about a Taiwanese girl at MIT trying to navigate life. She might be falling for a guy who isn’t Taiwanese, which isn’t acceptable to her family at all. This sounds like an interesting read, and I can’t wait to get to it.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi // Another intriguing book. American Street is the story of Fabiola, a Haitian girl who immigrates to the U.S. Her mom gets detained by U.S. immigration while they’re moving, leaving Fabiola alone with her aunt and cousins in Detroit -a place she doesn’t know.

Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia // I’ve wanted to read this one for ages, and I have absolutely no idea why I hadn’t bought it yet. This novels centers around a girl who creates a popular webcomic. A new boy transfers to her school, and he’s one of the biggest fanfiction writers of her comic -a huge fan. She knows who he is, but he has no idea she is the creator of the comic. Sounds absolutely adorable.

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera // I’ve never read any Adam Silvera books. For some reason, I’m afraid I won’t like his writing or be severely disappointed by his books after all the hype he’s been receiving? But I know that’s not fair of me! When I saw this book at the library, I knew it was the perfect time to try out his writing.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King // I have only ever read 1 Stephen King book. It’s one called The Eyes of the Dragon, which is more of a fantasy novel. I find his works so intimidating because there are so many of them and I have no idea where to start. So maybe I’ll start with this one!

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee // I’ve wanted to read this for a while now. This is a science fiction novel by a Korean-American author. It sounds really interesting as it’s set in B-Mor, a worker colony long ago known as Baltimore and centers around this girl called Fan who is a giver in temperature-controlled fish tanks.

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova // I’ve never read an Elizabeth Kostova book, but she’s quite the famous author. I believe this book is about a woman travelling through Bulgaria when a luggage mishap accidentally leaves her with an urn of someone’s ashes instead of her own luggage. The book follows her as she tries to find the owners of the urn.

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner // One I’ve actually already read since getting it! You’re Welcome, Universe is about a deaf girl who gets expelled from her school when she covers up a slur about her best friend with graffiti. I liked it, especially because of the representation of deaf culture, the talk about art and her fabulous family (she has 2 moms and loves them endlessly -yay great family dynamics). What prevented me from truly enjoying or loving this book is the main character. I understand that not every character has to be likeable, but come on. She was so judgmental and rude!

Those were the books I got from the library. Pretty great haul, no?
Have you read any of these books? Which ones should I pick up first?

YALC Book Haul

I talked about going to YALC in my July wrap up earlier this month, but I haven’t talked about the books I managed to acquire there. I did write a post on the books I wanted to bring to YALC to get signed, which you can find hereThe only book I didn’t take with me from that list was The Mime Order, so I didn’t get to meet Samantha Shannon. All the others I managed to get signed!

I knew I had to try and control my book buying urges better than I did last year. To enforce better buying behavior in myself, I only brought a small suitcase with me (and my purse of course). That way, I could only bring a small amount of extra books home with me. Here’s what I got!


Sadie by Courtney Summers // Wednesday Books // One of the stands at YALC had an offer where you could get one galley/ARC for free if you bought one book. So when I bought a book, I chose Sadie as my free galley. I had wanted to read this for ages, ever since I saw it on Netgalley, because I adored All the Rage by Courtney Summers so much. I read it while in London and I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. It’s SO GOOD. I know it’ll be on my favorites of 2018 list. I haven’t written a review on it yet, but I summarized it on Twitter on my favorite reads of 2018 thread.

Easy Prey by Catherine Lo // Amulet // I had never heard of this book before, and to be honest I kind of hate that cover. It makes me think of some weird UK dramatic high school show (no, I am not talking about Skins because I love Skins). Anyway, I thought the premise of this book was quite interesting. It’s about sexting, and ‘racy pictures’ of Ms. Bailey that got leaked by someone. Who did it? Drew, Mouse or Jenna?

Finished Copies

Running With Lions by Julian Winters // Duet books // A week or two ago, I saw this book mentioned in a blog post on recommendations for Hufflepuffs. I can’t remember which one though, so if you wrote that post please let me know so I can credit you. They described this as a gay sports romance for Hufflepuffs, which made me so excited to read it. I saw it at YALC and decided to buy it (even though it was at full price which made me cry a bit on the inside). I also managed to read it while I was at YALC, and all I will say is that everyone should read this book because it was fantastic. Again, I haven’t written a review on it yet but you can see my summary in my Twitter thread.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes // Speak // This is the book I bought to get the ARC of Sadie. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not the only reason I bought this. I’ve wanted to read this ever since it was released but somehow never got around to it. Now I have my own copy!

Down Station (Down Station #1) by Simon Morden // Gollancz // Gollancz was having a 3 for £10 sale, so I got two books and combined my purchase with Alessandra’s, since she wanted to buy 1 book from their stand. I had never heard of Down Station before, but the cover is just so beautiful I had to pick it up. It’s about a small group of tube workers and commuters who escape a fiery apocalypse taking over London through a service tunnel and suddenly find themselves in another world.

Swordspoint (The World of Riverside #1) by Ellen Kushner // Gollancz // Another one I had never heard of before. I also just realized that this book was written in the 80s? Thanks to the cover, I figured it would be a new release. I honestly have no idea what this is about but it’s fantasy and it’s got a sword on the cover/in the title. So I bought it.

Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon // Amulet // Amulet Books also had a 3 for £10 sale going on, which is why I picked up these books. I’ve had Done Dirt Cheap on my to-read list for quite a while. I’ve heard it described as a younger version of Sons of Anarchy with two women as the lead characters. Sounds great to me.

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee // Amulet //  This is a non-fiction book in which Sungju describes his childhood in North-Korea. Forced to live on the streets since age 12, he resorted to stealing, begging and fighting to survive. This final version of the book was written with the help of Susan McClelland, a journalist. My copy is actually signed too!

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate // Amulet // I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book. It’s about a girl who is tired of not getting lead roles in the school musicals because of her Alto 2 voice. So she pretends to be a guy to join the all-male a cappella group called The Sharpshooters. SOUNDS PERFECT TO ME.

That’s it. Those were all the books I acquired at YALC! Have you read any of these? Which one should I pick up first?

Library Haul: November ’16 Edition

I’ve really gotten back into the habit of going to the library! The English section isn’t big, as I’ve said before, but there are still many interesting gems to be found. When I had to bring back some books last week, I figured I’d take a look around too. And then brought home so many more books…

Books mentioned:

  1. The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport
  2. Post Capitalism by Paul Mason
  3. Bloodstream by Tess Gerritsen
  4. The Pillars of the Earth (Pillars of the Earth #1) by Ken Follett
  5. The Once and Future King by T.H. White
  6. The Best American Short Stories (2010), edited by Richard Russo 
  7. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
  8. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
  9. Die Again (Rizzoli & Isles #11) by Tess Gerritsen

October Book Haul!

I don’t do book hauls often. Usually, when I buy books I buy small quantities at a time. Maybe in a secondhand store, or my favorite store is having a sale, etc. But I saw someone haul some books they’d ordered from, which I found really interesting. I live in Belgium, so they shipping is free and the shipping time is short when I order from the French branch. Yet I’d never done that. So I decided to take a look at the English section they had. And I ended up ordering 11 books -and paid €60 in total (shipping included). That’s so cheap!

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
The Circle by Dave Eggers
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
The School for Good and Evil (School for Good and Evil #1) by Soman Chainani
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer
Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1) by Michael Crichton
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson
Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Library Haul #1

I don’t go to the library often. That may be a strange thing to admit, especially as a book blogger. But you may know that I often prefer to read in English, rather than the translated books. You might also know that I live in Belgium. 

For the past few years, I’ve lived in Brussels as a student. I visited the library every once in a while there, because they did have a small English selection. Now that I’m not a student anymore, I also don’t live in Brussels anymore. My hometown is much smaller, but our library is quite big. So I decided to go there, and take a look at their English section. And I found all of this!

Books mentioned: