Going AWOL Book Reviews

Is Going AWOL my kind of book? Book reviews by other readers can answer this question.

Check out the latest reviews on Amazon.com or scroll down for more reader reviews. 

There's so much more to being adventurous ...

At first I thought it seemed easy to answer author Mary Somervell’s question on p 17 - ‘What does being adventurous mean to you’ – quite obviously sky diving, travel to exotic destinations, and eating fried crickets are some of the first adventures that sprang to mind. 

But, as Mary intimately explores what being adventurous means to her through her own life stories, insights, and amusing anecdotes, she challenges you to look for adventure in the great outdoors, in your home, in your relationships, in every facet of life. 

Mary takes you on a journey as she shares her passion for outdoor activities in New Zealand and her life adventures. She explores the adventure in transitioning from one phase of life to another, making changes, and forming relationships.

Going AWOL is an enjoyable and relatable read that challenges your perception of adventure and being adventurous. Perhaps devouring fried crickets is just as venturesome as transitioning to retirement. This is not just a book about how someone else’s life is more exciting and intrepid than yours, it is a book that inspires you to recognise what adventure is to you and to enjoy it throughout all phases of life.  

Life is an adventure – live it! 

- Sarah Irvine

An uplifting and positive read with great tips on adventuring in Aotearoa

Mary Somervell's Going AWOL is a fabulous book. It is very readable and once you start reading you do not want to stop. It is full of amazing adventures of intrepid women going on wonderful adventures. And these intrepid women need no previous experience! Motivation and determination are the key drivers for the ultimate benefits  - happy, loving life and enjoying the environment we live in.

Going AWOL is full of amazing adventures interweaved with Mary's own biographical vignettes. The importance of moving and exploring is a theme throughout the book, along with beautiful descriptions and photos of the adventures of amazing women.

Mary's tales of adventure are inspirational and AWOL as the perfect antidote to getting contentment and self fulfillment in life. It is an uplifting and positive read, acknowledging the importance of conservation awareness whilst adventuring. 

The book also provides inside knowledge and great tips for anyone embarking on adventure travel in New Zealand. 

Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, is described as the wonderful and adventurous place it is and would highly recommend the book to anyone embarking on an adventure in this remarkable and beautiful land.

- Karen Rollitt

Gets you thinking 'maybe I could do that'!

Going AWOL is an inspirational book about adventures in beautiful New Zealand. The author has the knack of drawing you into tales of her adventures with others and makes you think “Maybe I could do that” The questions at the end of each chapter are thought provoking and challenging with great quotes from people from all walks of life. 

What is being adventurous, what can you do to lead your best life possible? It shows that just small adjustments to your mind set or little nudges outside of your comfort zone can make a big difference to both physical and mental health at any age. An easy and enjoyable read that also gets you thinking. 

- Gilly Booth

Insightful, thought provoking and good for the soul

Going AWOL is a delight: easy to read, insightful, thought provoking and good for the soul. Mary Somervell, AWOL’s author, shares her passion for organising adventuring groups for women in New Zealand. If you haven’t been to New Zealand yet, Somervell’s book and photos will certainly give you a taste of the landscape and the outdoor activities on offer. Somervell shares a ‘warts and all’ account of these trips and is not afraid to admit that things do not always go according to plan. Her writing is accessible, honest, and engaging. Alongside summaries of the AWOL adventures she has organised, Somervell weaves in detail from her own life. Setting personal challenges, reconnecting with nature and with other AWOL members, are some of the tools she has used to restore her own physical health in times of injury.  The author also emphasises the need for us to increase our physical activity as we age as this offers a degree of protection and possibly a faster recovery when facing physical setbacks. While not as active outdoors as the author, nor as ready to take on some of the challenges she describes in her book, this piece of advice resonates with me. Going AWOL has something for everyone.

- Catriona Barclay 

Great ideas for outdoor adventuring

Mary writes about specific examples of challenging but achievable outdoor adventures that she undertakes with friends - from Harley Davidson riding, snowshoeing and bushwalking to scuba diving.  All these adventures are possible to experience in New Zealand and are inspiring, uplifting and fun to read about. She writes in an easy-to-read, descriptive style with a positive, joie-de-vivre approach.

There is an interesting balance of personal comments, as well as comments by the other AWOL adventure participants, all which are supported by stunning photographs and insightful quotes. After reading this book you want to get out there into the beautiful natural environment and enjoy it all.

- Margaret Davidson 

A thoughtful read for women and men of different ages, abilities and experience

'Have you ever ridden a Harley, sailed an America’s Cup yacht, or tried fly fishing, snow shoeing, scuba diving, kayaking, wilderness tramping or a megacity adventure?

Going AWOL is a thoughtful read for women and men of all ages, abilities, fitness and experience. From armchair travellers and those exploring their inner worlds, to local day trippers and those wanting to push their comfort zone – no matter how small or large it is – this book will inspire you to live your richest life, starting today.

Like her group adventures, Mary Somervell’s book thoughtfully and enjoyably covers a lot of ground. Packed with travel stories, practical tips, quotes, philosophy and vivid photos, it covers universal themes such as holistic health, inner and outer journeys, connection with self, others and nature, transitions, change and ageing at all ages, challenging circumstances and pushing ones limits. 

Somervell inspires, motivates and challenges us, even including prompting questions at the end of each chapter to help readers engage and explore their own life journey so far, and what direction they’ll take it. 

She also interweaves her own life challenges and learnings with awareness, wisdom and humility. She addresses the realities and dangers of adventuring, the importance of attitude and mental resilience, and tips for staying fit and having fun. 

With clear and attractive layout and vivid images, this inclusive and encouraging book is the best first step to living your life fully, or to motivate you if you’ve hit a flat spot. 

“…we can [also] rediscover mini adventures to go on more often – visiting nearby rivers, watching magical sunsets, climbing nearby hills, sleeping under the stars, or cycling to unfamiliar places. With minimal planning, we can leave the safe and familiar and go on adventures nearer to home – having fun, pushing the boundaries, exploring less familiar paths, and experiencing different cultures and cuisines.” (p. 124)

It includes a descriptive list of inspiring women, has a free guide on how to create your own AWOL group, and ends with a bonus summary of 20 gorgeous New Zealand destinations for your next trip. The only ingredient missing is your willingness, and your next step into living fully. Get the book and go for it!' 

- Sylvia Bauer 

A wonderful book to uplift and inspire new or current adventurers 

This book will lift you up, inspire you and take you on amazing adventures around New Zealand. It is for adventurers, or those of you who might be dreaming about going on one. Who get excited about leaving your comfort zone, or perhaps you are scared, yet there is something in there for you. Who love nature, and those of you who would love to spend more time in nature.

Who have a group of like-minded friends, or those who might be right now feeling lonely, looking to connect and share life experiences, trips and transformation together! 

This book is waiting for you and it will take you on a wonderful adventure.

- Bea Pole-Bokor

A thought provoking read exploring how we can be more adventurous 

'It’s time for an adventure. Pour yourself a favourite beverage, sit back and prepare to be taken on a journey that informs, entertains and challenges.

In Going AWOL -  Inspiration and Insights from Adventurous Women on the Loose - first-time author Mary Somervell takes us on a series of adventures that showcase some of the best scenery and experiences New Zealand has to offer. But she also takes us on another journey - one of self discovery.

Somervell has cleverly woven this second thread through her accounts of many diverse adventures she has organised for groups of women - hiking, diving, sailing an America’s Cup yacht, kayaking. Her love of the outdoors and keen eye for the beauty of flora and fauna shines through. 

Top class photography - her own and husband Steve Vaughan’s (he’s an honorary member of Going AWOL)  - accompany  these accounts.

Somervell challenges us to think about some bigger issues - why we need adventure, and how it helps us mentally and physically. She shows us age shouldn’t be a barrier. She talks about friendships, good and bad, and how adventures create relationships and strengthen others.

She bluntly asks us to consider what’s stopping us being more adventurous. Good question.

Somervell discusses transitions in life. Like her adventures, things don’t always go to plan. But we learn resilience to carry us through. Adventuring  - whether multi-day or just a few hours - fosters resilience. 

Going AWOL is  a thought-provoking read. 

Somervell has listed 20 adventures around New Zealand and how to get there, and offers a free guide to setting up a Going AWOL group.'

- Jane Chisnall