New Adventures

Firstly, we wanted to give a huge "thank you" to all of our readers and followers over the past four years. Thank you so much for your endless support and love. 

You have inspired us in so many ways and supported us through comments, likes and real, genuine friendship. 

After four years of creating content together, this marks our last blog post as The Duck and the Owl. Although it is a bittersweet moment, it is time for a change and for new beginnings. We are both working on many new projects and going through beautiful life-changes and so must our blog as well. 

We have loved every minute of this and could not have done it without you. 
Thank you. 

But don't fear, lovely readers, we will still be on the internet: 

Sarah will be blogging over on her new adventure blog, Adventure Boots, chronicling her outdoor adventures around Wisconsin and the U.S. 

Kaitlyn will be blogging over on her new lifestyle blog, Say Hello Story, where she will be celebrating people's stories through photography while also celebrating how stories are told through her three favorite things: travel, food and coffee. 

February Reads

It's that time again to tell you what we've been reading for the past month (where did February even go; it went so fast)! We'd love to have you in on this conversation too, so if you've read any of these books, let us know what you thought of them!

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher 
(4 stars)
I was devastated when Carrie Fisher died at the end of last year. Star Wars was my upbringing and Carrie Fisher was my role model. She became more of a role model to me as a teenager when I read her books and admired how candidly she spoke about mental illness. 

Reading this book tore me up, largely due to the fact that her death is still so recent and the fact that she joked and referenced her own death jokingly throughout the book so close to its actual occurrence. The main focus of the book was her and Harrison Ford's affair and OHMYGOODNESS I NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT THIS! 

Her actual journals were my favorite part of this books, she's really a fabulous writer. Though I think that the book itself could have been organized in a more cohesive way. 

Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes 
(5 stars) 
I'm obsessed with this YA fantasy series by Morgan Rhodes. This is the 5th book in a series that I can only describe as a YA Game of Thrones: no character is safe and every character is flawed is a gorgeous way. If you're a fan of fantasy, you NEED to pick up this series. 

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
(3 stars) 
I am so conflicted about this book. I've been recommended it so many times throughout the years and all of my friends gave it five stars on Goodreads, so when I started reading it and was bored to death, I was left wondering, "what's wrong with me?" 

The imagery is beautiful and the writing is admirable. But I was deathly bored for the first 3/4 of the book. Then the ending happened and my mind was blown. 

All in all, I think this would be my favorite short story of all time, but it doesn't seem to fit in a novel format.

Evicted by Matthew Desmond
(5 stars) 
This is the best book I've read in quite a while and probably one of the best fiction books of all-time. Over the course of a few years, Desmond lived in a trailer park on the South Side of Milwaukee and on the North side of Milwaukee to gather stories from individuals living in poverty and their landlords. He also conducted his own research, for there is little to no research done on the housing crisis and evictions. This book was heart-breaking and eye-opening and I wish for everyone to read this. 

What was your favorite book that you read in February?

Spring in Wisconsin--A Rebirth of Stories

By: Kaitlyn 

The weather has been miraculously beautiful for this time of year in Wisconsin. I spent the weekend outside, remembering what it was like to have the sun kiss my skin. I didn't realize how much I have missed it.

Spring has always been my favorite season, and every time the weather warms up, so does my inspiration. Each year, the revival of the nature and the people around me inspire me once again to capture their beauty and to tell their stories. I can't wait to begin.

What stories do you have to tell? 

January Book Club: The Mothers by Brit Bennett Discussion

Welcome to our first-ever discussion post for our Book Club! In case you missed it, every month we will be reading a new book with some awesome gal pals (including Being Zhenya). At the beginning of each month, we will announce the book we will be reading so you can read along and join us HERE on our discussion post to chit chat, gush and or rant about the book we read! 

Our first pick this year was the literary debut from author Brit Bennett. It's a story told from multiple-perspectives that shows how one decision can impact an individual, a family and even an entire town.
One of the main reasons why we chose to read this book was because our favorite bookstore, Boswell Books, was hosting an author event in February where we could meet and discuss this book with the author herself. 

The event was eye-opening. Things we had not thought about the book were explained and discussed by the author. Before this, however, she read an excerpt from the book and it was remarkable to hear her words flowing from her mouth. She seemed down-to-earth and like someone we would be friends with. She answered thought-provoking questions about the book and about herself. We were shocked to learn that she spent about 7 years writing The Mothers. And this made us feel good about the novels we wish to write someday. Overall, it was an incredible event.

Below, you will find our individual reviews of the book. If you read with us, please join us in the discussion in the comments - there we can get into the spoiler-y stuff!

★★☆☆ (3.5/5 stars)

Overall, this was very well written. As a whole, I think Bennett should be super proud of this debut novel. The prose was beautiful and the characters were intoxicating. It was a simple story, however, perhaps it was a little too simple. Throughout the book I was waiting for something big to happen--I wanted there to be a little more. The novel brought up important issues that make you think about how one decision can impact many lives. Overall, I would recommend this book and look forward to reading more Brit Bennett.

(P.S. What was with those last two lines???)

★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

I loved this book, I suppose, because I feel close to it after hearing Brit Bennet speak. Her writing is like honey - it flows and it's beautiful and it's sticky. It stays with you. While I did not relate much with Nadia, our protagonist, I found her to be an extremely interesting and complicated character. At some points she was so juvenile and stupid, other points she had to make hard decisions. In that way, I think we can all relate to her, dealing with the dichotomy of life. I can't wait to read more from Brit Bennett.

January Reads

Both of us love to read. It's something that started our close friendship and our apartment is literally covered in books. Hoarding isn't a problem when it's books, right? We don't think so. 

Every month, we want to do a quick review of what we read that month. So here's our list and reviews!

Kaitlyn Read this Month:

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
☆ (4.5 stars)
Sarah told me to read this book about a year ago as it's one of her favorite books of all time. It's follows that story of the first and only execution of a woman in Iceland. This book totally tore out my heart. The ending was so terribly sad. It was extremely well written. It was atmospherically engrossing, which I really enjoyed. There were some parts that were a little too slow-moving for me, but that is my only complaint. I have a feeling that I am going to think about this book often.

Winter by Marrisa Meyer

 (4 stars)
I started the Lunar Chronicles earlier this year and was completely unable to put them down. This YA sci-fi series is one of those where you need the next book immediately after you finish the first one. I love these characters and I'm going to miss them. They were all unique and special and I loved them all together as a cast. Each book is better than the next.  This book dragged on a little too long for me (just felt like it was one conflict after another for no other reason than to make it longer). But I really enjoyed it overall. Would HIGHLY recommend this whole series. 

The Mothers by Brit Bennet 

☆ (3.5 stars)
This was our Book Club Book of the Month this January! Stay tuned for a blog post coming soon that will tell you all of our thoughts and feelings on this one. 

All The Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister 

☆ (4.5 stars) 
I absolutely adored this book! It's basically one giant essay exploring how the views and mindsets regarding single women have changed throughout history. I learned so many interesting historical facts and Traister clearly did her research and interviewed many people across the country. One of my favorite chapters was the chapter regarding sexuality in today's society. It was poignant and was unafraid to talk about real issues. This book is a truly fascinating and important read, not just for single women, but for women everywhere. It's not for everyone though; it's incredibly dense.

Elephant Rocks by Kay Ryan

☆ (2 stars)
This collection of poetry was a huge disappointment. The poems were quite elevated and the word choices were something I could appreciate. However, not a single poem made me feel like I could connect to it and not a single poem gave me any kind of emotional response. 

Mischling by Affinity Konar

☆  (3 stars)
This is a WWII story, following two identical twins and their experience as scientific experiments in a Nazi camp. Obviously, this was an incredibly sad and powerful story. However, I'm conflicted on what to rate it. The writing itself was beautiful and I found myself marking up a lot of the pages. On the other hand, the way the plot was constructed could have been better and neater and it was hard for me to connect to any of the characters. 

Sarah Read this Month:

The Nix by Nathan Hill
★ (5 stars)
This is a bold claim, but I'm going to say it anyway. This book might be my new favorite book. It's the kind of book I hope to read someday. The writing is fantastic, the characters are flawed and wonderful and the storyline is non-stop. I felt at home with the characters, while also completely separated from their lives and their decisions. I want to read this book again and again.

Saga, Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
☆ (4 stars) 
If you haven't read any of the Saga graphic novels, don't start with this one, as it is volume 6 in the series. I love this graphic novel series and will continue reading them until they are finished.

The Girls by Emma Cline
☆ (4 stars)
This book was a wee-bit too pretentious for me, which often comes with an author's debut novel. But the writing was great and the storyline had me on the edge of my seat. If you're into Charles Manson cult-esque stories with disgustingly good writing, check this one out. I will definitely be picking up this author's next work.

Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson
☆ (4 stars)
If you couldn't tell, I read a lot of graphic novels. This one, by arguably my favorite graphic novelist, was wonderful. Awesome artwork with a storyline that was way more than surface level deep. 

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan
☆ (3 stars)
Another graphic novel. Not as great as the rest, but definitely worth a read. Lots of girl power!

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
★ (5 stars)
Now here is a graphic novel I could gush over for hours. Isabel Greenberg combines beautiful illustrations for an innate storytelling gift. I'm obsessed with this book. Here was my review on Goodreads:
Wow. Breathtaking and fascinating and imaginative and remarkable. I love Isabel Greenberg's illustrations and storytelling. If you're looking for a female empowering graphic novel, this is it. Gahhhhh and I love Cherry and Hero."

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
☆ (4 stars)
This was our Book Club Book of the Month this January! Stay tuned for a blog post coming soon that will tell you all of our thoughts and feelings on this one. 

The Unseen World by Liz Moore
★ (5 stars)
Ok, technically I'm still reading this one. But I'm practically finished and read the majority in January and there's no way I'm not giving it 5 stars. It's a heartbreaking story of a daughter and father, the latter diagnosed with Alzheimers. It's gotten a little hard to read, as it is so poignant, but I love it.

What is your favorite book that you read this month? 

January Favorites

A couple of years ago, we rounded up a list of our favorite things each month. It helped up reflect on the month, as well as celebrate our favorite things, makers and people. So we wanted to bring it back! The things listed below aren't necessarily "new" this month, but things we've experienced this month. Here are our favorite things from the month of January:

  • Blogger of the Month: Nicole of Writes Like A Girl. We've had huge crushes on Nicole for such a long time. Basically we just want to be best friends and have endless coffee dates with this woman. She's hilarious, intelligent and body positive, and just all-around a kick-ass lady. Check her out. 
  • The Women's March. This month was hard for us politically and as a nation. However, this march and seeing millions of women and men march the day after the 45th president's inauguration was a powerful experience. But the work isn't done. Here's a link to help figure out your next steps
  • Along those lines, the speech/spoken word poem Ashley Judd gave at the Women's March on Washington is a powerful, all-inclusive piece of art and rally cry. 
  • If you don't know, Sarah desperately wants to be a mermaid. And this month, Kaitlyn got Sarah a mermaid tail blanket for her birthday. One a few more steps away from becoming a real mermaid and not just a land mermaid.
  • This tweet from Chrissy Teigen casually showing off her stretch marks.
  • THE BACHELOR IS BACK! Our number one pleasure (not even guilty) is watching The Bachelor. Every season, we gear up with our brackets and band together every week with wine, chocolate and snacks to witness love and drama unfold. It is seriously the best. And if you don't think it's the best show on television, then you haven't watched it. What do you think of this season? Nick? OMG CORRINE? Can we talk about how perfect Vanessa is? And dolphin-girl, can you please be our best friend? 
  • Our local zoo has triplet tiger cubs and they are too die for. Bernadette, Eloise and Kash. Cutest things ever.

What were your favorite things in January? Tell us below!

Advice from Teens: Recognizing Our Privilege

By: Kaitlyn 

When I first started teaching, I wanted to tell of my experiences and what I've learned from my kids in a series called "Advice from Teens." In the past, I've generally written a reflection of when I was closing a certain chapter, but I've been blessed to have been working at the same high school for more than three years now. It's been wonderful to be in one place to get to know the same students year after year. 

I wanted to write this series (and wanted to become a teacher) because I think that there's a huge lack of respect toward the ideas and opinions of the young people in our world. Society tends to push away or ignore teenagers' opinions, dismissing them simply because they are "young" and "don't know what they're talking about." 

That is far from the case. Most of the time, my students see things and understand things in a way that most adults fail to. 

This was especially apparent in the election this past season. My students were able to have honest and open conversations regarding issues that adults were avoiding to mention (ie. race, sexism, sex, etc.).

This morning, I was chatting with one of my seniors that I've now known through his whole high school career. He's a young, black man that has struggled to gain respect, despite his efforts to always show it, and has faced the reality of the racism that still exists every day. 

He was telling me about his frustration with talking to his peers about politics (especially when it comes to economic issues). 

"The people that think they know it all, have it all," he said. 

I stopped him in his thoughts and wrote it down on a post-it and told him to autograph it. Because that's one of the most straight-forward truths I have ever heard. 

Privilege has been a buzz-word these past few years, but I fear that people still fail to recognize it. 

Sadly, in these past few months, empathy, listening and understanding have been lacking in our political and social lives. Most people think that they are correct and disregard people that disagree with them. But we fail to remember that when we disregard other people's opinions, we are also disregarding their experiences. After all, what shapes us more than that? 

It's so important to recognize the privilege in our own lives. I am a white woman raised in a middle-class family. Growing up, I never worried about where my next meal was coming from, I was never afraid of walking around my suburban neighborhood at night. That's the privilege I was born into. 

Not everyone is born into that privilege. There are many people born into this world where the color of their skin still dictates their path in life, where their economic status is destined to never change based on the lack of opportunity, where their lives are constantly in danger based on where they live and can't escape from. We need to recognize our own privilege and more importantly, recognize other's lack of privilege. We need to listen to each other and revalidate each other's experiences. We need to acknowledge that maybe we don't know it all and that our own privilege has made it unnecessary in the past for us to. 

But it is necessary to know it all. To validate and recognize all experiences. 

Until we validate experiences and learn to understand people who have had different experiences than we have had, we will never be truly equal.

I have hope that this will happen. I see it in our kids; I see it in our teens. They are shaping the world around us as we speak and they're shaping it with empathy and truth.  

Oh, hello!

Oh, hello!
We're Sarah and Kaitlyn, roommates from Milwaukee who started this blog to promote creativity and life.
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