Zine Review: Birder Beginnings: Introduction to Bird Watching

Birder Beginnings: Introduction to Bird Watching
Sarah E. Hoffman

Birder Beginnings is a black and white comprehensive beginner’s guide to bird watching and birding, and boy am I ever a beginner.

The chaos of the house move delayed my reading this zine, but I’m almost grateful for it (save for the annoyance of the delay for Sarah). Since moving to a much quieter place, I’ve been hearing so many more bird calls and have a greater appreciation for this zine.

Birder Beginnings takes you by the hand and leads you into the world of birding. Sarah’s writing is informative without waffling, telling you things you don’t need to know, or distracting from the subject. The cut and paste style fits in very well with the guidebook style of the zine.

I was impressed by the amount of information that was packed inside. There are so many elements of birding – and bird watching; I now know there is a difference – that I simply wouldn’t have been able to even guess before. Sarah writes about how binoculars work, developing and advancing your skills, birding event etiquette, and plenty more. There are even events and various types of documenting the birds you’ve spotted.

There’s even a list for further reading, and you know how much I love lists for where to get more info.

While this may seem overwhelming, Sarah makes it clear at the beginning that all you require to start is the ability to enjoy nature.

The part I appreciated most was the ‘birds in your backyard’ section. The specific of breeds and seeds may not all be applicable in Australia, but the ideas and tips are. Even better, I felt like they were things I could implement fairly easily. I feel inspired and am looking forward to making the space I have bird-friendly.

As I mentioned, I am a complete beginner to all of this, but I feel like this zine has all the information anyone needs to get going for anything from casual bird watching to more involved birding.


Zine Review: If You Hate Someone… You Hate Someone

If You Hate Someone… You Hate Someone

If You Hate Someone… You Hate Someone is a black and white handwritten zine about language, relationships, and the question: Are hurtful words turning romantic?

I’ve been sitting here for a while now trying to figure out how to get into this review, but my head is still filled with everything I’ve just read. I should learn to simply not have expectations with any zines because this zine certainly went in a different direction than I thought it would. What started out as a rant turned into a real ‘lightbulb’ sort of zine for me, making me think about things in a new light.

Inspired by people ‘shipping’ Resident Evil 7’s “protagonist and the game’s next door asshole”, the zinemaker asks:

“Are we normalising loathing in healthy relationships?”

They start off talking about tired of people deciding that two men who hate each other ‘obviously’ must really be in love with each other. The concern (amongst many) in this is that it’s taking nasty words and phrases thrown at each other as some sort of secret, disgusting love language and how that is playing out in society with hurtful words becoming normalised.

I like the clarification of the difference between liking the ‘enemies to friends to lovers’ trope and the ‘they hate each other so they must love each other’ thing that the zinemaker is talking about. Furthermore, there is the clarification that this isn’t about abusive relationships either – even though, when it comes to this topic, they are muddier waters to navigate.

They go on to point out the societal implications of indulging what some would argue is an ‘innocent fiction’ and how it’s not just simple or fun. How these sorts of things tend to leak into behaviour and normalise it.

Who hasn’t heard ‘if a boy hits a girl, then he really likes her’?

I do have to point out here that the handwriting is a bit hard to read at times. But I found the subject so interesting that it only slowed me down rather than prevented me from continuing.

If You Hate Someone is a zine that I expected to read casually, but it ended up really making me think a lot about things that I’d simply accepted as how things work. Things that I hadn’t taken the time to think critically about. If anything I’ve described here sounds interesting to you, then definitely check out this zine.

Zine Review: Posture 2: Create or Perish

Posture 2: Create or Perish

Posture 2: Create or Perish is a black and white 24 hour zine (if you’re not familiar, it’s a challenge to create a zine within 24 consecutive hours).

Given it’s the last Friday in International Zine Month July, I thought it was only right to review a 24 hour zine.

I think I need to read more 24 hour zines because it’s a lot of fun to be ‘in the moment’ with a zinemaker as they are creating a zine. Ro even adds a date, time, and time left in the front that adds to the fun ‘urgent’ feeling.

Ro starts off admitting that there is no real plan for this zine, and it’s a smattering of various subjects. It starts out with thoughts about being fascinated with street art and tugs right at my zine-loving heartstrings by giving a different perspective to something I’ve never really thought about.

From street art and yarn bombing, Ro goes into documentary recommendations, thoughts on fashion, art and creativity, and there are a couple of quotes thrown in for fun.

Side note: There is a really cool pocket on one page of this zine, but I have no idea what went in it.

This is a fun zine with various bits and bobs on various subjects. It’s very quick and easy to read. If you think that sounds like you check out this zine.

Zine Review: Mythologising Me #10

Mythologising Me #10

Apologies right up front for the not-so-great image. Looking forward to a house with natural lighting…

Mythologising Me #10 is a black and white perzine about moving, money, and self-care.

It never ceases to make me giggle when I pick up a zine and the contents inside speak to what I’m experiencing in my life at that time. I totally identified with the joys to be found in moving into one’s own place and no longer needing to do things like hide from the landlady during inspections. I found myself wanting to read more on that subject alone.

In the zine, Ingrid contemplates work and whether the ‘dream job’ is worth the stressful commute and doing what one needs instead of racing after the almighty dollar. The theme of self-care continues in a piece about writing mail and making new penpals until the point where it all became overwhelming rather than a pleasurable experience. How doing something you love so much too much can make you stop enjoying the process in the first place.

There was one point that was a little jarring for me as the reader and that was the use of ‘we’ without explaining who else made up the ‘we’ being talked about. It made me want to pick up earlier zines in the series, which is good for the zinemaker, but it did throw me out of the reading for a little bit, which is perhaps not so good for the zinemaker.

I do love it when a zine gets me interested in new concepts and gives options for further reading should the reader be interested. With MM 10, this came with Ingrid’s thoughts on the ‘treat yo’self” mindset within self care and how that can be a bad thing. This is the first time I’ve read about the possible negative impacts of doing things that way, and I’m eager to check out the recommended reading on the subject.

Aesthetically, MM 10 has made me realised what a structured person I am when it comes to making zines. Don’t take that as a negative thing. I found this zine to be really refreshing and different with no titles, switches of fonts to show switches of topic, so on and so forth. I like the mix of shorter thoughts as well as longer pieces of writing.

There were a few spots where the words were difficult to make out, but I think I got the gist of everything.

There’s also plenty to look at with cats, Snoopy stickers (<3), and more. It reminds me that, while computers can certainly help things along and make things easier, there is a free-spirited sort of whimsy when it comes to making things more by hand than by machine.

Mythologising Me #10 is a perzine I enjoyed and inspired me to check out the rest of the series.

Zine Reviews Announcement

The world will forgive you for taking care of yourself. Or the world that matters.

A friend wrote that to me recently. They were helping me to relax about feeling bad. Why was I feeling bad? I was planning on completing a zine project and releasing it on the 17th. It didn’t matter that Wanderer had an MRI scheduled that day (he’s okay) and that I had to travel to Melbourne to see a neurologist the next day (I’m not awesome, but I can get better).

I hold myself to task for these things and get very disappointed when I don’t live up to my expectations.

The thing is that I am stressed. I am a little overwhelmed right now, and even though I certainly have the time to sit down with a zine and review it, I’m concerned that my exhaustion, my mood, and my stress may make that review less than that zine – or any zine – deserves from me. I respect that people are paying their hard-earned money to send me their zines, and I never want to give anything other than the best.

So I need to take this week off reviews. Just today and tomorrow. I’ll still be posting International Zine Month stuff. I’ll still have calls for submissions going up this weekend. But I can’t give zines the attention they deserve for a proper review this week. I will be right back to it next week with bells on.

I’m probably making a bigger deal out of this than it needs to be. I mean, what’s two days? Two reviews that will happen later instead of today and tomorrow? It almost feels egotistical to assume people would care to the extent that I need to put up this announcement.

I hope that my stress about it just goes to show how much I care about this blog, about zines, and about every one of you who reads this blog. That I respect and love what I do. Feel fortunate that I can do this and bring people some happiness on occasion.

So I do hope you’ll forgive me. It’s hard to lose my ‘winning’ streak of not missing a review day this year. But I won’t sacrifice quality for quantity. (Or self-competition.) Not in this.

Big hugs and loves of love from Oz,


International Zine Month 2017 Day 17: Review a Zine!

Review a zine online or write a review to share

Hello zine friends! Well, anyone who has had a peek around this site knows that reviewing a zine isn’t exactly a new activity for me. 😉 Check out the zine review index if you’d like to see what I’ve been up to for the past few years.

That’s why I figured I would share the love by sharing your reviews! I know, not that exciting, but if you share the link(s) for your review(s) below – regardless of whether it’s your first or your fiftieth – then I will share them in various spaces and places so your thoughts will be amplified.

You never know when a little will go along way, and zines could always use a little more love. 🙂

Put those links in the comments if you have them, and have a wonderful day!

Other Zinesters Joining In (Let me know if you are, and I’ll add you to the list!):


Play along with 31 Days of International Zine Month Activities here!

Zine Review: Growing to Become Myself 2017

Growing to Become Myself 2017
Queer Marshmallow

Today when I’m not feeling well on a dreary winter afternoon, I was in the mood to read a zine that would make me feel good. Growing to Become Myself 2017 delivered that.

The first thing that really strikes me when I look at this mini-zine is the colour. With the title in pinks on top of a picture of green grass and purple and white flowers, it’s a very inviting zine. (Especially as I snuggle in my electric blanket and sigh about winter.) I feel like I can’t help but look inside.

This use of colour is carried on inside with photos of flowers used at the backdrop for words and thoughts written on snippets of pastel coloured paper. It is handwritten rather than type, and I thank the zine maker for clear and readable handwriting.

Growing to Become Myself 2017 is like a goals list combined with reminders on how to be more self-caring, gentle, and more positive about your life.

The Focus on Healing page hit home the most with me with words about slow progress still being progress and not pushing oneself into doing more than one can. This is what I struggle with the most in my life (hello, my name is Nyx, and I’m a workaholic).

The one niggle here is no contact details whatsoever. As always, I say this with a grain of salt because you never know if people leave off the details on purpose. However, I’m someone who always wants to know more and thus always notices when they’re not there.

Growing to Become Myself 2017 is a very pretty zine that uses the title and theme of growth along with images of flowers to create a beautiful, gentle mini-zine. I quite enjoyed it and hope you will, too.