From The Beacon: Audiobooks spice up holiday travels

Need a little Christmas pumping through your car stereo speakers? Here are some must-listen-to stories to entertain you on your trip over the river and through the woods to holiday celebration destinations near and far.

You can always count on Richard Paul Evans to release a holiday story each year. His latest holiday treat is "Promise Me," a story that will capture your interest from word one. Beth Cardall's life has been turned upside down and there doesn't seem to be any sign things will get better. Her husband has suddenly died, her daughter is suffering from an unidentifiable disease, and she doesn't know how her bank account will survive the ordeal. On a blustery Christmas day, Beth encounters Matthew, a striking stranger, who seems to know a lot about her life. Holiday cheer mixed with mysterious science fiction elements will have you glued to your seat.

For a touch of holiday cheer by way of humorous stories, look no further than "Wishin' and Hopin'<2009>" by Wally Lamb. This tale, a grown-up versi Barbara Robinson's "Best Christmas Pageant Ever," takes readers back to 1964. Ten-year-old Felix Funicello encounters mischief and mayhem at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parochial School, where substitute teacher Madame Frechette and a new Russian student teach more than grammar and arithmetic. If the kids are out of earshot, play "Holidays on Ice" by David Sedaris or "You Better Not Cry" by Augusten Burroughs for humor that's a little more naughty than nice.

If you like a heart-pounding holiday mystery, look no further than "Holly Blues" by Susan Witting Albert. Released this year, the 18th book of the China Bayles mystery series, finds tea shop owner Bayles befriending her husband's ex-wife, Sally Strahorn. When strange phone calls from a stalker begin plaguing China's home and the police target Sally for involvement in a murder, China must once more solve the case. Murder mystery fans also might enjoy a triple threat of short stories in "Gingerbread Cookie Murder" from authors Joanna Fluke, Laura Levine and Laura Meier. Veteran narrator Suzanne Toren brings all three gingerbread-themed mystery stories to life with such ease you'll swear you can smell a fresh batch of gingerbread cookies.

For books with an inspirational message, put "The Christmas Sweater" by Glenn Beck or "Angels at Christmas" by Debbie Macomber in your audio player. Of course, most consider "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens to be the quintessential, and most kid-friendly, inspirational holiday tale.

Don't worry if you don't have time for a full-length novel, our library branches also have Christmas music CDs by artists such as Mannheim Steamroller, The Carpenters, The Wiggles, Lou Rawls, Gene Autry and Bing Crosby. Be sure to make your local Beaufort County Library branch the next stop for your holiday planning and pick one of these audiobooks for your listening pleasure. From our library family to yours, we wish everyone a very happy holiday!