So given that background, I did get a physical copy of Jonathan Haymaker and I really liked it! It wasn't part of the deal that I had to write a review, but I do like to write reviews for free books I get, especially ones I really like, so here goes.
Blurb from Amazon:
Jonathan is not the strongest young man in his home village. That would be his older brother Jason. He isn't the tallest, best looking, or funniest either. Again, that would be Jason. He is better than most in the village at archery, though. He is an excellent hunter, and can perform more trick shots than anyone else with amazing accuracy. Well, he is almost better than anyone else. Jason has him beat there too. Jonathan doesn't mind though, he and his older brother share a deep bond that connects them more fully than their differences could separate them. They work together in their family fields, go swimming at the fishing hole, and sometimes they play tricks on other farmers in the village. Whatever they do, for good or ill, they do together.
On Jonathan's sixteenth birthday though, officers come to the village asking for volunteers. Trolls have invaded during the heaviest monsoon season ever known, and the wet conditions have given the trolls enhanced abilities. Jason is the first to step forward, and is eagerly accepted for his height and strength. Though he also volunteers, Jonathan is told he is too young, and not strong enough for the rigors of war with the trolls in the Murkle Quags.
When letters stop arriving from Jason after two years of war, and Jonathan still finds himself denied acceptance to the army due to his small stature, he does what any good brother would do. Jonathan Haymaker takes his bow and leaves his home. They said it couldn't be done. The journey was too far, the dangers too great, and the war too fierce for a boy like him. Perhaps they were right, but he knew Jason was alive somewhere, and he was not about to let his brother be alone.
The book is very well written, it has good characters, a well built world and a solid plot line. Jonathan is a younger brother, his older brother is lost in war, and he goes out to find him.
The book has violence, as is needed in a book about wars and battles, but it is written in a way that when I finished I immediately handed the book to my ten-year-old son who quickly read it and passed it on to my twelve year old daughter. Making clean story that revolves around violence, is not easy but it is well done in this one.
I also love that the end of the book finished this story. I like when books don't leave the reader hanging and this one did that for me. I could definitely read more stories in this series as the author made the characters memorable and likable and I'd love to see their continued journey, but this is also a book that can be read as a stand alone and is very enjoyable.
Unfortunately, the book is a little short. (which is a credit to the author who makes me want to read more, but I could have used a little more) I would love to see a novella come out with Jason's time in battle school, or his fighting while Jonathan is searching for him. It would have been nice to see Jonathan have another obstacle or two in his path, or make one of the challenges he faced a little more difficult, or given us a little more closure at the end. Any of this would have given the book a little more bulk and I would have liked to see more, but I also like longer books, so that might just be a preference thing.
So given that this book is targeted at younger readers, it might be good that it is a little shorter. It will definitely keep their attention, and keep them turning the pages. (I know it did for me).
I was also happy to see that the next book in the series, Brothers Haymaker, is available really soon!