Time Warner Books, £18.99

An aptly titled autobiography if ever there was one, Sharon Osbourne's 'Extreme' delves into a life of excesses, of pushing the limits, and of coming out the other side far from unscathed. Blunt in its language, honest in its testimony and absolutely compulsive reading, 'Extreme' chronicles a life that is certainly less ordinary.

Osbourne emerges as far more than the woman we know as 'X-Factor' judge, wife to rocker Ozzy and star of the reality television show 'The Osbournes'. She displays herself as a woman with few air and graces, someone who has an extraordinary ability to tackle whatever life throws at her head on.

What makes Osbourne's autobiography such compelling reading is how frankly she tells her stories. She is truthful in the harshest of detail and this is a very much warts-and-all presentation of her life story. There are some terrifying and ugly moments between the covers of this book that will make you squirm, shiver and recoil. But mostly it will make you think twice about the notion of celebrity and the public and private personas that make up our chosen heroes.

'Extreme' details Osbourne's early life as the daughter of music executive Don Arden, notorious in the business as a man with a short fuse, who always collected his debts and was eager to make a quick buck from any scam that was going. With a distant and troubled mother and a father who was driven by a greed for wealth, the young Sharon was often left to fend for herself and was forced to grow up far too early. By the time she entered the family music management business, she was already much wiser to the world than someone of her years should be, but she was also naïve when it came to family loyalties, allowing herself to be used by her father and brother when they wanted to keep their own hands clean.

'Extreme' also takes a very candid look into her often troubled relationship with her now-husband Ozzy Osbourne, who was a member of the successful rock outfit Black Sabbath when they met. Osbourne tells of her unconditional love for her husband. But she never shies away from recording the hard times, when they had no money, when Ozzy's drinking and drug abuse was at an all-time high and when her husband even tried to strangle her in a drug-induced rage.

But aside from the very public Sharon Osbourne that we see in the media, 'Extreme' presents us with a very personal story of a woman who struggled all her life with weight problems, who was torn between a job she hated and wanting to spend time with her three young children - Aimee, Kelly and Jack - and who was recently forced to put on a very public brave face during her battle with cancer.

Essentially, 'Extreme' is an account of climbing from the lows of life but it is never preachy. Osbourne doesn't try to dress anything up here and makes no bones about the fact that she wasn't afraid to do whatever it took to get her through the more difficult times in her life. Rarely does she present herself as the victim. When she was hit, she hit back, and harder. When her father came looking for her she didn't run scared.

Osbourne has a natural gift for writing. Though blunt and to-the-point her words are riveting, presenting us with an account of a troubled, yet inspirational, life. Fans of Osbourne will enjoy the chance to delve even deeper into the fiery personality that prompted this lady to throw several glasses of water over music manager Louis Walsh during a recent live 'X-Factor' show. Even those who are not fans of the star are likely to find this an entertaining read, as Osbourne unashamedly slates those who have crossed her and generally tells it like it is.

But whether you like this biography or not, one thing is for sure - Sharon Osbourne ain't likely to care all that much.

Linda McGee