Sorry for the late response, I don't check into my account as often as I should. Any who, regarding the NCLEX books, I'm currently rotating through 3 different NCLEX books: Mosby's Review Questions for the NCLEX-RN, HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination and Saunders Q&A Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination. While the exact style of the questions does not mimic the ones on the HCC exam, they allow you to put your knowledge into practice which is very helpful. It also gets you in the habit of learning how to answer priority questions and selecting the best answer. Especially pay attention to the rationales! You will hear this over and over from the professors.
I would definitely recommend renting your fundamentals textbook!! You will be required to purchase the Prep-U add on (extremely helpful) but it is much cheaper to buy that on it's own and rent the book. You won't use your fundamentals book at any other point throughout the program. Do, however, buy your pharmacology and Med-Surg book! You will continue to use these as you progress. I bought both of mines used on Amazon (MUCH cheaper than the on-campus bookstore)
Unless a previous nursing student is selling their skills kit, the only place to get it is the HCC bookstore. No real way to get out of this one unfortunately. I can't speak on the stethoscope as I myself have the Littmann Classic II. Although it's on the more expensive side, I think it's a great investment. A lot of the students in my class have the lightweight version which is about $30 cheaper than the classic and they love them. Prestige offers stethoscopes for about $25 which you can look into. But I will tell you that some of my peers went this route and ended up having to purchase a new one by second semester (most fell apart very easily).
Hope this answers your questions and feel free to ask any other questions.